Propane is available commercially for use in conventional internal combustion engines as an alternative fuel for gasoline. However, its application in the developing homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engines requires various approaches such as high compression ratios and/or inlet charge heating to achieve auto ignition. The approach documented here utilizes the trapping of internal residual gas (as used before in gasoline controlled auto ignition engines), to lower the thermal requirements for the auto ignition process. In the present work, with a moderate engine compression ratio the achievable engine load range was controlled by the degree of internal trapping of exhaust gas supplemented by inlet charge heating. Increasing the compression ratio decreased the inlet temperature requirements; however, it also resulted in higher pressure rise rates. Varying the inlet valve timing affects the combustion phasing which can help to decrease the maximum pressure rise rates. NOx emissions were characteristically low due to the nature of homogeneous combustion. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.