During the past 10 years particle engineering in the pharmaceutical industry has become a topic of increasing importance. Engineers and pharmacists need to understand and control a range of key unit manufacturing operations such as milling, granulation, crystallisation, powder mixing and dry powder inhaled drugs which can be very challenging. It has now become very clear that in many of these particle processing operations, the surface energy of the starting, intermediate or final products is a key factor in understanding the processing operation and or the final product performance. This review will consider the surface energy and surface energy heterogeneity of crystalline solids, methods for the measurement of surface energy, effects of milling on powder surface energy, adhesion and cohesion on powder mixtures, crystal habits and surface energy, surface energy and powder granulation processes, performance of DPI systems and finally crystallisation conditions and surface energy. This review will conclude that the importance of surface energy as a significant factor in understanding the performance of many particulate pharmaceutical products and processes has now been clearly established. It is still nevertheless, work in progress both in terms of development of methods and establishing the limits for when surface energy is the key variable of relevance.