Improving catalyst light-off characteristics during cold start and reducing engine-out (more accurately converter-in) emissions prior to catalyst light-off have been regarded as the keys to meeting future stringent emissions regulations. Many technologies and control strategies have been proposed, and some of them have already been incorporated into production, to address these issues. Among these, secondary air injection received a lot of attention. This study was initiated to investigate the thermal and chemical processes associated with secondary air injection inside the exhaust system in order to maximize the simultaneous benefit of improving catalyst light-off performance and reducing converter-in emissions. The effects of several design and operating parameters such as secondary air injection location, exhaust manifold design, spark timing, engine enrichment level, and secondary air flow rate were carefully examined. It was found that proper design and optimization of secondary air injection can significantly improve catalyst light-off characteristics and reduce converter-in HC emissions.