The oil film thickness distribution between the top ring and liner was observed using laser fluorescence (LF). Five different commercial lubricants, two single grades and three multigrades, were studied at two azimuthal, mid-stroke locations for five speed/load combinations in a small IDI diesel engine. Cavitation is never observed. The lubricant always separates tangent to the ring surface. The rheology of the oil flow under the ring is consistent with a non-Newtonian viscosity without elasticity. The difference between lubricant type (single or multigrade) corresponds to differences in inlet and outlet conditions. Using an analytical model together with the measured oil distributions, calculations demonstrate a difference in friction between single and multigrade lubricants. The multigrade lubricants have a lower friction coefficient, consistent with improvements in fuel economy reported in the literature.