Contrary to the thick thermal barrier coating approach used in adiabatic diesel engines, the authors have investigated the merits of thin coatings. Transient heat transfer analysis indicates that the temperature swings experienced at combustion chamber surfaces depend primarily on material thermophysical properties, i.e., conductivity, density, and specific heat. Thus, cyclic temperature swings should be alike whether thick or thin (less than 0.25 mm) coatings are applied, Furthermore, thin coatings would lead to lower mean component temperatures and would be easier to apply than thick coatings. The thinly-coated engine concept offers several advantages including improved volumetric efficiency, lower cylinder liner wall temperatures, improved piston-liner tribological behavior, and improved erosion-corrosion resistance and thus greater component durability. Other gains include some improvement in brake work, lower exhaust emissions, and higher exhaust temperatures for possible exhaust gas utilization. Above all, thin coatings may find application in the large gasoline engine market. Testing of a thin-coated spark-ignition engine is currently underway to evaluate these claims.