This work has been carried out on a two-cylinder s.i. automotive engine and it investigates spark advance, air-fuel ratio and variable valve overlap for low emissions and low fuel consumption, with an acceptable cyclic irregularity under idle conditions. An original application of a variable valve timing system, based on a passive electro-hydraulic link, has been used for this purpose. The instantaneous engine speed and in-cylinder pressure have been measured and recorded by means of an acquisition data system that allows both the determination and the comparison of some cyclic irregularity indexes, under different engine settings, at idle. The optimum spark advance, air-fuel ratio and valve overlap, which yield the best compromise between fuel consumption and cyclic irregularity, under idle operating conditions, have therefore been pointed out.