In this paper the concurrent design method based on partial control, which was developed by Shinnar and co-workers [(Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 1995, 34, 1228; 1995, 34, 3014; 1996, 35, 2215; 1997, 36, 747; 2000, 39, 103) (AIChE J. 2000, 46, 2456)] is applied to reactive distillation systems. It is shown that this approach provides important insights on the design and control of such processes. One main advantage of the method is that the design and scale-up of complex processes are based on the identification of the process dominant variables using learning models such as literature, pilot plants, and simulation models. While we use the methyl acetate production system as our prime example, the results could be of general interest. Our results also explain what are the limitations in the current application of reactive distillation and what could be done to increase its applicability to a wider set of problems.