The pulse flame combustor was adapted by researchers at Ford Motor Company in the early 1970s in order to produce exhaust gas simulating the combustion products of the internal combustion engine for the evaluation of automotive catalysts. Over the years, the pulse flame combustor has found application in a wide variety of research oriented tasks associated with automotive catalysts and emissions. More recent research and development efforts which have resulted due to elevated demands toward lower vehicle emission levels have prompted continuing refinements of the apparatus and effected innovative approaches to the study of emerging automotive catalyst and emission control issues with the pulse flame combustor. This report provides an overview of the operation and design evolution of the pulse flame combustor. In addition, recent applications of this laboratory device for studying automotive catalysts, alternative fuels, and other automotive emission control topics are reviewed. Examples are selected to illustrate the versatility and adaptability of the pulse flame combustor as a research and development tool.