The side-load capacity of an unlubricated ringless piston assembly was calculated for a four-stroke I.C. engine for possible application to a Low-Heat-Rejection engine. A compressible flow analysis for an ideal gas was used to calculate the flow at the piston-cylinder interface. The analysis accounts for the gas inertia effect and possible choked flow. The piston side-load capacity is compared with the actual side thrust on the piston, generated through the combination of piston inertia, cylinder pressure, and connecting rod angularity. It was found that a carefully designed ringless piston can support the side load of a slider-crank mechanism during the power stroke of a four-stroke engine. However, during the remaining strokes, the load can be supported only partially.