The rate of air entrainment into the flame and the rate of heat release are thermodynamically calculated in a DI diesel engine: A two-zone model is proposed which uses as input data three measured values of cylinder pressure, flame temperature, and injection rate. The correlations between both rates under various conditions make it clear that the combustion during early and main periods of diffusion combustion is mainly controlled by air entrainment into the flame. The effects of injection pressure, piston configuration, and swirl intensity on the air entrainment are also studied. And the extent of mixing in the flame is evaluated by the equivalence ratio in the flame which is also obtained by the same model. The trends of exhausted NO and soot concentrations well correlate with the equivalence ratios in the flame and measured flame temperatures under all conditions studied.