This review article considers the role of fatty acids and the mutual association of their long-chain (e.g. C18) alkyl and alkenyl groups in some important aspects of papermaking. In particular, published findings suggest that interactions involving fatty acids present as condensed monolayer films can play a controlling role in pitch deposition problems. Self-association among the tails of fatty acids and their soaps also helps to explain some puzzling aspects of hydrophobic sizing of paper. When fatty acids and their soaps are present as monolayers in papermaking systems, the pH values associated with their dissociation, i.e. their pKa values, tend to be strongly shifted. Mutual association also appears to favor non-equilibrium multilayer structures that are tacky and insoluble, possibly serving as a nucleus for deposition of wood extractives, such, as resins and triglyceride fats, in pulp and paper systems.