Hydrophobically modified water-soluble polymers have recently become the subject of extensive research because of their use as aqueous viscosity modifiers in oil recovery and latex paint systems. In this study, poly(acrylamide) samples modified with small amounts of a hydrophobic monomer (ethylphenylacrylamide) have been prepared by free radical copolymerization using an aqueous micellar process in which the use of a surfactant ensures the solubilization of the hydrophobe. The copolymers exhibit improved thickening properties with respect to homopoly(acrylamide) analogs due to intennolecular hydrophobic associations. The aqueous solution-copolymer properties strongly depend on the amount of surfactant used in the synthesis. The differences observed between the samples are directly related to the copolymer microstructure, that is to a more or less block distribution of the hydrophobic units. The interactions in aqueous solution of a surfactant (sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS)) with these copolymers have been examined. A strong increase in viscosity is observed upon the addition of SDS below its critical micelle concentration, owing to the formation of mixed micelles of SDS and hydrophobic monomers. The complex rheological behavior observed is explained in terms of the balance between inter and intrachain liaisons. The effects of hydrolysis on the hydrophobic interactions are also discussed.