Adsorption on the surface of sub-micrometric oil droplets resulted in significant changes in the tertiary structure of bovine beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a whey protein broadly used as a food ingredient and a major food allergen. The adsorbed protein had increased sensitivity to trypsin, and increased immunoreactivity towards specific monoclonal antibodies. In spite of the extensive tryptic breakdown of emulsion-bound BLG, some sequence stretches in BLG became trypsin-insensitive upon absorption of the protein on the fat droplets. As a consequence - at contrast with free BLG - proteolysis of emulsion-bound BLG did not decrease the immunoreactivity of the protein, and some of the large peptides generated by trypsinolysis of emulsion-bound BLG were still recognizable by specific monoclonal antibodies. Structural changes occurring in emulsion-bound BLG and their consequences are discussed in comparison with those occurring when the tertiary structure of BLG is modified by lipophilic salts, by urea, or upon interaction with solid hydrophobic surfaces. Such a comparison highlights the relevance of situation-specific structural modifications, that in turn may affect physiologically relevant features of the protein. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.