The presence of oil on the suction valve of a reciprocating compressor has long been known to be responsible for the so-called valve stiction phenomenon. With stiction, the opening of the valve is delayed until later in the suction stroke, which results in a reduction in volumetric efficiency and increases the probability of valve failure. In this paper, a model is presented for analyzing the dynamic behavior of a round reed valve in the presence of oil. It is shown that the primary reason for stiction is the viscous force arising from dilating the oil film between the valve and its seat. This dilation takes place as the cylinder pressure on one side of the valve reed falls below the suction pressure in the intake plenum upstream of the valve. The viscous force delays the valve opening until later in the suction stroke. Because the film dilation resistance is directly proportional to the oil viscosity and decreases rapidly as the film thickens, the film eventually breaks and the valve begins to accelerate rapidly until it impacts the valve stop. The delayed rapid release of the valve and the associated impact are shown to subject the valve to much higher forces than would be experienced without the effect of stiction. The relative effect of oil viscosity and valve/seat contact area on valve force is presented for a representative reciprocating compressor equipped with suction valves.