Formation of 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) from the precursors glycerol, triolein and soy lecithin in the presence of sodium chloride was studied. The precursors were reacted with sodium chloride in an emulsion stabilised with an emulsifier under conditions which modelled the thermal treatment of foods during processing. Three sets of experiments were carried out aimed to monitor the influence of various factors (NaCl, water content and temperature) on the yield of 3-MCPD. The formation of 3-MCPD strongly depended on the concentration of NaCl and reached a maximum level at about 4–7% NaCl. The highest amount of 3-MCPD was formed in media containing approximately 13–17% water. The amount of 3-MCPD increased with increasing temperature over the range 100–230 °C and reached its highest value at 230 °C. The production of 3-MCPD was also followed in models very closely related to selected foods which had been shown to have a high potential to yield 3-MCPD during processing (salami, beefburgers, processed cheese, biscuits, crackers, doughnuts). The highest levels of 3-MCPD were formed in models simulating salami as they had the highest content of both fat and salt of all the samples. The lowest amount of 3-MCPD was formed in the models simulating biscuits and crackers as they had a low salt content and, at the same time, their water content was below the optimum level.