The mechanism underlying segregation in liquid fluidized beds is investigated in this paper, A binary fluidized bed system not at a stable equilibrium condition. is modelled in the literature as forming a mixed part-corresponding to stable mixture-at the bottom of the bed and a pure layer of excess components always floating on the mixed part. On the basis of this model: (0 comprehensive criteria for binary particles of any type to mix/segregate, and (ii) mixing, segregation regime map in terms of size ratio and density ratio of the particles for a given fluidizing medium, are established in this work. Therefore, knowing the properties of given particles, a second type of particles can be chosen in order to avoid or to promote segregation according to the particular process requirements. The model is then advanced for multicomponent fluidized beds and validated against experimental results observed for ternary fluidized beds. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.