Following the increasing international phasing out of methyl bromide for quarantine purposes, the development of alternative treatments for timber pests becomes imperative. The international accreditation of new quarantine treatments requires verification standards that give confidence in the effectiveness of a treatment. Probit-9 mortality is a standard for treatment effectiveness that has its origin in fruit fly research, and has been adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture for fruit flies and several other pests. Following this, the probit-9 standard has been adopted as a benchmark for many quarantine treatments worldwide. This article discusses aspects of the application of this concept for a range of timber pests. Problematic issues include the often small pest populations available for testing, the limits of modeling pest responses to a treatment in the absence of sufficient numbers for treatment verification, the species diversity of pests and host materials and the physical and chemical conditions of host material or treatment conditions. Where treatment verification by killing large numbers of individuals is impossible, data collected from small populations or under specific conditions must be interpreted with caution. We discuss possible alternative approaches to probit-9 as a treatment efficacy standard.