The wetting behavior of oil on water (or brine) has important consequences for the transport properties of oil in water-containing porous reservoirs, and consequently for oil recovery. The equilibrium wetting behavior of model oils composed of pure alkanes or alkane mixtures on brine is reviewed in this paper. Intermediate between the partial wetting state, in which oil lenses coexist on water with a thin film of adsorbed alkane molecules, and the complete wetting state, in which a macroscopically thick oil layer covers the water, these systems display a third, novel wetting state, in which oil lenses coexist with a mesoscopic (a few-nanometers-thick) oil film. The nature and location of the transitions between these wetting regimes depend on oil and brine compositions, temperature and pressure. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.