The environment of amino acid residues in protein tertiary structures and three types of interfaces formed by protein-protein association--in complexes, homodimers, and crystal lattices of monomeric proteins--has been analyzed in terms of the propensity values of the 20 amino acid residues to be in contact with a given residue. On the basis of the similarity of the environment, twenty residues can be divided into nine classes, which may correspond to a set of reduced amino acid alphabet. There is no appreciable change in the environment in going from the tertiary structure to the interface, those participating in the crystal contacts showing the maximum deviation. Contacts between identical residues are very prominent in homodimers and crystal dimers and arise due to 2-fold related association of residues lining the axis of rotation. These two types of interfaces, representing specific and nonspecific associations, are characterized by the types of residues that partake in "self-contacts"--most notably Leu in the former and Glu in the latter. The relative preference of residues to be involved in "self-contacts" can be used to develop a scoring function to identify homodimeric proteins from crystal structures. Thirty-four percent of such residues are fully conserved among homologous proteins in the homodimer dataset, as opposed to only 20% in crystal dimers. Results point to Leu being the stickiest of all amino acid residues, hence its widespread use in motifs, such as leucine zippers.