A simple, but useful method is described for predicting the swirl speed during the compression process in a direct injection diesel engine. The method is based on the idea of dividing the combustion chamber into two volumetric regions and computing the variation of the angular momentum in each region.Laser doppler velocimeter measurements in a motored engine proved the validity of the idea that the volume in the combustion chamber should be treated as two regions, that is, the cylindrical volume inside the piston-cavity radius, and the annular volume outside the piston-cavity radius. Distributions of tangential velocities were measured for different conditions, including the intake port configuration, the piston cavity shape, the compression ratio and the engine speed. These results were integrated in the two regions and provided the measured “two volume-regions” swirl ratio. At the same time, the computation was carried out for the same experimental conditions.Good agreement between the computed results and the measured results was obtained for the variation of the swirl speed with crank angle during compression, verifying the validity of this model.