Impulse response provides important information about flaws in mechanical system. Deconvolution is one system identification technique for fault detection when signals captured from bearings with and without flaw are both available. However effects of measurement systems and noise are obstacles to the technique. In the present study, a model, namely autoregressive-moving average (ARMA), is used to estimate vibration pattern of rolling element bearings for fault detection. The frequently used ARMA estimator cannot characterize non-Gaussian noise completely. Aimed at circumventing the inefficiency of the second-order statistics-based ARMA estimator, higher-order statistics (HOS) was introduced to ARMA estimator, which eliminates the effect of noise greatly and, therefore, offers more accurate estimation of the system. Furthermore, bispectrums of the estimated HOS-based ARMA models were subsequently applied to get clearer information. Impulse responses of signals captured from the test bearings without and with flaws and their bispectra were compared for the purpose of fault detection. The results demonstrated the excellent capability of this method in vibration signal processing and fault detection.