This paper describes the experiments conducted to determine the effect of high energy multiple spark discharge (MSD) ignition systems and spark plug electrode design, on the cold start performance of a vehicle which was converted for dedicated operation on E85 (a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) fuel. Tests were conducted using three different ignition configurations; original equipment manufacturer (OEM) ignition and spark plugs, high energy multiple spark discharge (MSD) ignition with OEM, J-type spark plugs, and high energy MSD ignition with surface gap electrode spark plugs. The high energy MSD ignition with OEM spark plugs showed a significant improvement in cold start performance over the OEM ignition. The addition of the surface gap spark plugs caused a decrease in cold start performance. Despite this, the surface gap spark plugs produced higher ending coolant temperature than the other configurations. The temperature difference results are inconclusive, but they indicate that surface gap spark plugs might be useful in reducing time to closed loop engine operation.