Abstract Pressure corrections for the viscous potential flow analysis of Kelvin–Helmholtz instability at the interface of two viscous fluids have been carried out when there is heat and mass transfer across the interface. Both fluids are taken as incompressible and viscous with different kinematic viscosities. In viscous potential flow theory, viscosity enters through normal stress balance and effect of shearing stresses is completely neglected. We include the viscous pressure in the normal stress balance along with irrotational pressure and it is assumed that this viscous pressure will resolve the discontinuity of the tangential stresses at the interface for two fluids. It has been observed that heat and mass transfer has destabilizing effect on the stability of the system. A comparison between viscous potential flow (VPF) solution and viscous contribution to the pressure for potential flow (VCVPF) solution has been made and it is found that the effect of irrotational shearing stresses stabilizes the system.