Recently, the notion of self-similarity has been shown to apply to wide-area and local-area network traffic. In this paper, we show evidence that the subset of network traffic that is due to World Wide Web (WWW) transfers can show characteristics that are consistent with self-similarity, and we present a hypothesized explanation for that self-similarity. Using a set of traces of actual user executions of NCSA Mosaic, we examine the dependence structure of WWW traffic. First, we show evidence that WWW traffic exhibits behavior that is consistent with self-similar traffic models. Then we show that the self-similarity in such traffic can be explained based on the underlying distributions of WWW document sizes, the effects of caching and user preference in file transfer, the effect of user “think time,” and the superimposition of many such transfers in a local-area network. To do this, we rely on empirically measured distributions both from client traces and from data independently collected at WWW servers.