LDA measurements of the flow in a motored engine near TDC of compression have been obtained, along with burnrate data in a firing engine having a near-central spark plug location. Results are reported for two different intake ports and four intake valve lifts varying from 25% to 100% of full lift. Opposite trends of swirl vs valve lift were found for the two ports, and the rms velocity fluctuation was found to be relatively insensitive to changes in valve lift. Regression analysis of the burn duration data was conducted, with swirl ratio and rms as independent variables. The analysis indicated that burn duration decreases with an increase in swirl ratio and/or rms velocity fluctuation. In light of the experimental findings, a new conceptual model is proposed regarding the effect of valve lift on the dissipation of turbulent velocity via changes in the length scale. And combustion-induced shear in the unburned gas resulting from conservation of angular momentum is hypothesized as a possible mechanism for increased burnrate due to swirl for the case of central ignition.