Fundamental engine research is primarily conducted under steady-state conditions, in order to better describe boundary conditions which influence the studied phenomena. However, light-duty automobiles are operated, and tested, under heavily transient conditions. This mismatch between studied conditions and in-use conditions is deemed acceptable due to the fundamental knowledge gained from steady-state experiments. Nonetheless, it is useful to characterize the conditions encountered during transient operation and determine if the governing phenomena are unduly influenced by the differences between steady-state and transient operation, and further, whether transient behavior can be reasonably extrapolated from steady-state behavior.The transient operation mode used in this study consists of 20 fired cycles followed by 80 motored cycles, operating on a continuous basis. The intention of the cycle is to provide a significant transient condition, namely the change from motored to knock-limited fired operation, while also maintaining a repeatable cycle that allows for the collection of statistics during quasi- steady-state operation.This study investigates the effect of transient operation on Knock-Limited Combustion Phasing (KL-CA50) compared to steady-state operation. Three compositionally dissimilar matched Research Octane Number (RON) = 98 fuels are used in this study, allowing for the assessment of fuel-specific effects on differences between steady-state and transient operation.This study first characterizes the 20/80 firing cycle described above, before comparing the transient KL-CA50 measurements to the steady-state KL-CA50 measurements. Analysis of both the steady-state and transient results are used to gain insights into the effects of transient operation on end-gas autoignition, relative to steady-state operation and as a function of fuel composition.The results of this study indicate the significant effect that transient operation has on KL-CA50 behavior of a fuel. This is both universal, in that all fuels show responses to the differences in compression temperatures of the charge, as well as fuel specific, in that the fuel response varies based on the fuel’s sensitivity to temperature, [O2], and trace species. All fuels showed a significant load extension under transient operation, based on tolerance of higher intake pressures. However, transient operation moved operating conditions to “beyond RON” (Octane Index K < 0) conditions, which favored higher-sensitivity fuels. Based on the analysis of system time constants (e.g. cylinder head temperature dynamic response, exhaust gas temperature dynamic response), it is expected that transient operation, and the benefits for knock-limited operation, are highly influential on drive-cycle performance.