Abstract The configuration of asphaltenes on the water–oil interface was evaluated from a combination of molar mass, interfacial tension, drop size distribution, and gravimetric measurements of model emulsions consisting of asphaltenes, toluene, heptane, and water. Molar mass measurements were required because asphaltenes self-associate and the level of self-association varies with asphaltene concentration, the resin content, solvent type, and temperature. Plots of interfacial tension versus the log of asphaltene molar concentration were employed to determine the average interfacial area of asphaltene molecules on the interface. The moles of asphaltenes per area of emulsion interface were determined from the molar mass data as well as drop size distributions and gravimetric measurements of the model emulsions. The results indicate that asphaltenes form monolayers on the interface even at concentrations as high as 40 kg/m 3. As well, large aggregates with molar masses exceeding approximately 10,000 g/mol did not appear to adsorb at the interface. The area occupied by the asphaltenes on the interface was constant indicating that self-associated asphaltenes simply extend further into the continuous phase than nonassociated asphaltenes. The thickness of the monolayer ranged from 2 to 9 nm.