The consequences of strong noncovalent intermolecular interactions between oligomeric and/or polymeric lignin components are encountered during enzyme-catalyzed lignin degradation and in the properties of lignin-based plastics. A new chapter in the 30-year quest for functional lignin-depolymerizing enzymes has been opened. The lignin-degrading capacity of the flavin-dependent monooxygenase, salicylate hydroxylase acting as a putative lignin depolymerase, has been characterized using a water-soluble native softwood lignin substrate under mildly acidic aqueous conditions. When macromolecular lignins undergo lignin-depolymerase catalyzed degradation, the cleaved components tend to associate with one another, or with nearby associated lignin complexes, through processes mediated by the enzyme acting in a non-catalytic capacity. As a result, the radius of gyration (Rg) falls rapidly to approximately constant values, while the weight-average molecular weight (Mw) of the substrate rises more slowly to an extent dependent on enzyme concentration. Xylanase, when employed in an auxiliary capacity, is able to facilitate dissociation of the foregoing complexes through its interactions with the lignin depolymerase. The flavin-dependent lignin depolymerase must be reduced before reaction with oxygen can occur to form the hydroperoxy intermediate that hydroxylates the lignin substrate prior to cleavage. In the absence of the cofactor, NADH, the necessary reducing power can be provided (albeit more slowly) by the lignin substrate itself. Under such conditions, a simultaneous decrease in Rg and Mw is initially observed during the enzymatic process through which the lignin is cleaved.The partially degraded product-lignins arising from lignin depolymerase activity can be readily converted into polymeric materials with mechanical properties that supersede those of polystyrene. Methylation and blending of ball-milled softwood lignins with miscible low-Tg polymers, or simple low-molecular-weight compounds, readily produce plastics with 80-100% lignin contents that exhibit >60 MPa tensile strengths and >10% elongations at break. X-ray powder diffraction analyses reveal that these materials are largely composed of associated lignin complexes. During casting, continuity between the macromolecular species is established through conformational changes in the peripheral components of the associated complexes that make up the plastics. Such a working hypothesis is supported by atomic force microscopy of surfaces created by ultramicrotomy of these new lignin-based polymeric materials.