Two-phase flows are ubiquitous, from natural and domestic environments to industrial settings. However, due to their complexity, modeling these fluid systems remains a challenge from both the perspective of fundamental questions on the dynamics of an individual, smooth interface, and the perspective of integral analyses, which involve averaging of the conservation laws over large domains, thereby missing local details of the flow. In this work, we consider a set of five problems concerning the linear and non-linear dynamics of an interface or free surface and the study of cavitation inception. Analyses are carried out by assuming the fluid motion to be irrotational, that is, with zero vorticity, and the fluids to be viscous, although results from rotational analyses are presented for the purpose of comparison. The problems considered here are the following: First, we analyze the non-linear deformation and break-up of a bubble or drop immersed in a uniaxial extensional flow of an incompressible viscous fluid. The method of viscous potential flow, in which the flow field is irrotational and viscosity enters through the balance of normal stresses at the interface, is used in the analysis. The governing equations are solved numerically to track the motion of the interface by coupling a boundary element method with a time-integration routine. When break-up occurs, the break-up time computed here is compared with results obtained elsewhere from numerical simulations of the Navier–Stokes equations, which thus keeps vorticity in the analysis, for several combinations of the relevant dimensionless parameters of the problem. For the bubble, for Weber numbers 3 [less than or equal] We [less than or equal] 6, predictions from viscous potential flow shows good agreement with the results from the Navier–Stokes equations for the bubble break-up time, whereas for larger We, the former underpredicts the results given by the latter. Including viscosity increases the break-up time with respect to the inviscid case. For the drop, as expected, increasing the viscous effects of the irrotational motion produces large, elongated drops that take longer to break up in comparison with results for inviscid fluids. In the second problem, we compute the force acting on a spherical bubble of variable radius moving within a liquid with an outer spherical boundary. Viscous potential flow and the dissipation method, which is another purely irrotational approach stemming from the mechanical energy equation, are both systematically implemented. This exposes the role of the choice of the outer boundary condition for the stress on the drag, an issue not explained in the literature known to us. By means of the well-known “cell-model” analysis, the results for the drag are then applied to the case of a swarm of rising bubbles having a certain void fraction. Computations from the dissipation method for the drag coefficient and rise velocity for a bubble swarm agree with numerical solutions; evaluation against experimental data for high Reynolds and low Weber numbers shows that all the models considered, including those given in the literature, overpredict the bubble swarm rise velocity. In the next two problems, we apply the analysis of viscous potential flow and the dissipation method to study the linear dynamics of waves of “small” amplitude acting either on a plane or on a spherical interface separating a liquid from a dynamically inactive fluid. It is shown that the viscous irrational theories exhibit the features of the wave dynamics by comparing with the exact solution. The range of parameters for which good agreement with the exact solution exists is presented. The general trend shows that for long waves the dissipation method results in the best approximation, whereas for short waves, even for very viscous liquids, viscous potential flow demonstrates better agreement. Finally, the problem of cavitation inception for the flow of a viscous liquid past a stationary sphere is studied by means of the theory of stress-induced cavitation. The flow field for a single phase needed in the analysis is found from three different methods, namely, the numerical solution of the Navier–Stokes equations, the irrotational motion of a viscous fluid, and, in the limit of no inertia, the Stokes flow formulation. The new predictions are then compared with those obtained from the classical pressure criterion. The main finding is that at a fixed cavitation number more viscous liquids are at greater risk to cavitation.