A nonintrusive diagnostic technique has been developed by which dynamic axial piston-position and tilt-angle measurements have been made in a single-cylinder research engine. A laser beam, introduced into the combustion chamber through an optical port in the cylinder head, was reflected by a polished surface on the piston crown. Motion of the reflected beam, carrying with it information on piston position and piston tilt, was monitored by a set of receiving optics. Piston motion was studied as a function of both engine speed and cylinder pressure (i.e., piston loading.) Measured axial piston-position was found to deviate from the theoretical position calculated from the measured crank-shaft position owing to the effects of tilt and piston loading. Furthermore, evidence of piston veer (tilt of the piston in a plane parallel to the axis of the wrist pin) was observed, which had an effect on the accuracy of the axial piston-position measurement. However, the piston-tilt measurement was less susceptible to the effects of piston veer, such that the magnitude and sense of piston tilt was found to be constant and repeatable. The phasing and duration of the tilt varied as functions of both engine speed and pressure loading. A physical explanation of the piston dynamics indicated by the data is proposed.