An experimental study was made to investigate the spray characteristics of high pressure fuel injectors for direct-injection gasoline engines. The global spray development process was visualized using two-dimensional laser Mie scattering technique. The spray atomization process was characterized by Phase Doppler particle analyzer. The transient spray development process was investigated under different fuel injection conditions as a function of the time after the fuel injection start. The effects of injector design, fuel injection pressure, injection duration, ambient pressure, and fuel property on the spray breakup and atomization characteristics were studied in details. Two clear counter-rotating recirculation zones are observed at the later stage or after the end of fuel injection inside the fuel sprays with a small momentum. The circumferential distribution of the spray from the large-angle injector is quite irregular and looks like a star with several wings projected out. With an increase in the ambient pressure, both the spray tip penetration and the spray width decrease monotonically and the asymmetric distribution of the spray is reduced by the increased ambient pressure. Around the spray center, both the large-angle and small-angle injectors generate droplets with a smaller size, higher velocity and smaller velocity dispersion ratio.