The hydrodynamic interaction between a rising bubble and a sedimenting particle during microbubble flotation is considered. The effects of attractive van der Waals forces and attractive or repulsive electrostatic forces are included. A mathematical model is presented which is used to perform a trajectory analysis and to calculate collision efficiencies between the bubble and particle. It is shown that collision efficiencies and the nature of the bubble-particle interactions are strongly dependent on the relative strengths of the van der Waals and electrostatic forces and on the lengthscales over which these forces act. It is demonstrated that optimal operating conditions can be suggested to achieve efficient microbubble flotation by correctly accounting for the interaction of van der Waals, electrostatic, and hydrodynamic forces. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.