Abstract The presence of cosolvents and co-solutes during the immobilization of lipases on hydrophobic supports may influence the extent of lipase immobilization and the long-term catalytic stability of the biocatalyst. Candida antarctica B lipase immobilization was examined on a hydrophobic surface, i.e., gold modified with a methyl-terminated, self-assembled alkylthiol layer. Lipase adsorption was monitored gravimetrically using a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). Lipase activity was determined colorimetrically by following p-nitrophenol propionate hydrolysis. Adsorbed lipase topography was examined by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Lipase adsorption from low ionic strength aqueous buffer produced a uniform confluent protein monolayer. Inclusion of 10% (vol) ethanol in the buffer during immobilization resulted in a 33% adsorbed mass increase. Chemically similar cosolvents, all at 10% by volume in buffer, were also individually examined for their influence on CALB adsorption. Glycerol or 1-propanol increased mass adsorption by 10%, while 2-propanol increased mass adsorption by 33%. QCM dissipation values increased threefold with the inclusion of either ethanol or 2-propanol in the medium during lipase adsorption, indicating formation of multilayers of CALB. Partial multilayer formation using 10% ethanol was confirmed by AFM. Inclusion of 10% ethanol in the CALB immobilization buffer decreased the specific activity of the immobilized lipase by 37%. The formation of lipase multilayers in the presence of certain cosolvents thus results in lower specific activity, which might be due to either influences on lipase conformation or substrate active site accessibility.