This paper describes the CEM, an original electronic engine management system developed by Alfa Romeo which has the task of controlling fuel injection, ignition and other boundary functions. This system has been designed particularly for high specific power output engines, as typical Alfa Romeo engines are; hence it includes timed sequential fuel injection and a set of sensors and actuators that were chosen aiming in particular at fast engine response. The CEM system has been defined and tested on all the engines of the Alfa Romeo range; it has also made possible the development of new control techniques such as the nodular engine. In order to improve the performance characteristics and to obtain additional control features a second generation CEM is now under development. The future system will use the spin-offs of studies now in progress on adaptive controls based on detection of the pressure cycles and ionization inside cylinders to achieve a direct control of combustion. This should enable the optimization of engine behaviour during its whole life.