There is a great need for understanding the link between the detailed chemistry of surfactants, forming wormlike micelles, and their macroscopic rheological properties. In this paper we show how this link may be explored through particle simulations. First we review an existing bead–spring model. We find that shear flow enhances the formation of rings at the expense of linear chains. The shear viscosity of this model is dominated by solvent contributions, however, and the link with the chemistry of the surfactants is missing. We introduce a more realistic Brownian dynamics model, the parameters of which are measured from atomistic molecular dynamics simulations.