Sediment toxicity from trace contamination of pyrethroid insecticides is an emerging water quality concern. Pyrethroids are highly hydrophobic, and their sediment toxicity is related to the freely dissolved concentration in pore water. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) was evaluated as a selective method to analyze free concentrations of eight pyrethroids in sediment pore water, and SPME measurements were compared to total pore-water concentrations measured using a conventional liquid–liquid extraction (LLE) method. Free pore-water concentrations detected by SPME (Cw-SPME) were 4.1 to 37% of the total concentration given by LLE (Cw-LLE) in pore water prepared from a freshwater sediment and only 3.2 to 13.3% in the pore water of a marine sediment. The difference suggested predominant partitioning of pyrethroids into the dissolved organic matter phase in pore water. The method detection limits of the SPME method were lower than the 10th percentile of the reported median lethal concentrations for aquatic organisms, with relative standard deviation <20% as determined over 200 analyses. The SPME method was further used to analyze field-contaminated sediment samples. Those analyses showed that the phase distribution of pyrethroids in sediment was influenced by sediment type and other conditions. Our results show that SPME provides a sensitive, reproducible, and practical method for screening sediment toxicity from potential pyrethroid contamination.