The mechanism of particle separation in a small hydrocyclone is analyzed in this study. The separation efficiency of particles is affected by two major effects, the centrifugal and underflow effects. The fundamentals of these effects on the selectivity curve are derived from the theories of hydrodynamics. Three JIS particulate samples are separated in a 10-mm hydrocyclone. The proposed mechanism can be demonstrated by the available data. An increase in split ratio leads to an increase in the separation efficiency only for fine particles; consequently, a decrease in the separation sharpness results in a remarkable fishhook phenomenon. When the feed rate is increased by increasing the pressure drop through the hydrocyclone, the entire partial separation efficiency will be improved, but the separation sharpness and fishhook depth have no substantial varieties. The proposed mechanism can be used for explaining these phenomena, for the selection of optimum operating conditions, and for the hydrocyclone design.