Measurements of instantaneous temperature were made at three locations on the cylinder head of a direct injection diesel engine. Changes in calculated instantaneous heat flux with changes in cylinder head surface temperature were assessed. The results were used in an assessment of various approaches to the description of instantaneous heat transfer incorporated in diesel cycle simulations.It was concluded that changes in the thermal boundary layer thickness throughout the cycle could account for some of the observed phenomena. A close correlation was seen between the heat transfer measured here and earlier published studies of measured boundary layer thickness. Some additional indications from the measurements point to a significant thermal capacitance of the boundary layer. Additional work is needed to further understand the potential ramifications of this effect.