Effects of particle size and chain length on flotation of quaternary ammonium salts (QAS) onto kaolinite have been investigated by flotation tests. Dodecyltrimethylammonium chloride (DTAC) and cetyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC) were used as collectors for kaolinite in different particle size fractions (0.075 ~ 0.01 mm, 0.045 ~ 0.075 mm, 0 ~ 0.045 mm). The anomalous flotation behavior of kaolinite have been further explained based on crystal structure considerations by adsorption tests and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. The results show that the flotation recovery of kaolinite in all different particle size fractions decreases with an increase in pH. As the concentration of collectors increases, the flotation recovery increases. The longer the carbon chain of QAS is, the higher the recoveries of coarse kaolinite (0.075 ~ 0.01 mm and 0.045 ~ 0.075 mm) are. But the flotation recovery of the finest kaolinite (0 ~ 0.045 mm) decreases with chain lengths of QAS collectors increasing, which is consistent with the flotation results of unscreened kaolinite (0 ~ 0.075 mm). It is explained by the froth stability related to the residual concentration of QAS collector in mineral pulp. In lower residual concentration, the froth stability becomes worse. Within the range of flotation collector concentration, it’s easy of CTAC to be completely adsorbed by kaolinite in the particle size fraction (0–0.045 mm), which led to lower flotation recovery. Moreover, it is interesting that the coarser particle size of kaolinite is, the higher flotation recovery is. The anomalous flotation behavior of kaolinite is rationalized based on crystal structure considerations. The results of MD simulations show that the (001) kaolinite surface has the strongest interaction with DTAC, compared with the (001) face, (010) and (110) edges. On the other hand, when particle size of kaolinite is altered, the number of basal planes and edge planes is changed. It is observed that the finer kaolinite particles size become, the greater relative surface area of edges and the more the number of edges are. It means that fine kaolinite particles have more edges to adsorb fewer cationic colletors than that of coarse kaolinite particles, which is responsible for the poorer floatability of fine kaolinite.