Long chain alcohols possess major advantages over the currently used ethanol as bio-components for gasoline, including higher energy content, better engine compatibility, and less water solubility. The rapid developments in biofuel technology have made it possible to produce C 4 -C 5 alcohols cost effectively. These higher alcohols could significantly expand the biofuel content and potentially substitute ethanol in future gasoline mixtures. This study characterizes some fundamental properties of a C 5 alcohol, isopentanol, as a fuel for HCCI engines. Wide ranges of engine speed, intake temperature, intake pressure, and equivalence ratio are investigated. Results are presented in comparison with gasoline or ethanol data previously reported. For a given combustion phasing, isopentanol requires lower intake temperatures than gasoline or ethanol at all tested speeds, indicating a higher HCCI reactivity. Similar to ethanol but unlike gasoline, isopentanol does not show two-stage ignition even at very low engine speed (350 rpm) or with considerable intake pressure boost (200 kPa abs.). However, isopentanol does show considerable intermediate temperature heat release (ITHR) that is comparable to gasoline. Our previous work has found that ITHR is critical for maintaining combustion stability at the retarded combustion phasings required to achieve high loads without knock. The stronger ITHR causes the combustion phasing of isopentanol to be less sensitive to intake temperature variations than ethanol. With the capability to retard combustion phasing, a maximum IMEP g of 5.4 and 11.6 bar was achieved with isopentanol at 100 and 200 kPa intake pressure, respectively. These loads are even slightly higher than those achieved with gasoline. The ITHR of isopentanol depends on operating conditions and is enhanced by simultaneously increasing pressures and reducing temperatures. However, increasing the temperature seems to have little effect on ITHR at atmospheric pressure, but it does promote hot ignition. Finally, the dependence of ignition timing on equivalence ratio, here called ɸ-sensitivity, is measured at atmospheric intake pressure, showing that the ignition of isopentanol is nearly insensitive to equivalence ratio when thermal effects are removed. This suggests that partial fuel stratification, which has been found effective to control the HRR with two-stage ignition fuels, may not work well with isopentanol at these conditions. Overall, these results indicate that isopentanol has a good potential as a HCCI fuel, either in neat form or in blend with gasoline.