Ethanol and ethanol/gasoline blends are being widely considered as alternative fuels for light-duty automotive applications. At the same time, HCCI combustion has the potential to provide high efficiency and ultra-low exhaust emissions. However, the application of HCCI is typically limited to low and moderate loads because of unacceptably high heat-release rates (HRR) at higher fueling rates.This work investigates the potential of lowering the HCCI HRR at high loads by using partial fuel stratification to increase the in-cylinder thermal stratification. This strategy is based on ethanol's high heat of vaporization combined with its true single-stage ignition characteristics. Using partial fuel stratification, the strong fuel-vaporization cooling produces thermal stratification due to variations in the amount of fuel vaporization in different parts of the combustion chamber. The low sensitivity of the autoignition reactions to variations of the local fuel concentration allows the temperature variations to govern the combustion event. This results in a sequential autoignition event from leaner and hotter zones to richer and colder zones, lowering the overall combustion rate compared to operation with a uniform fuel/air mixture.The amount of partial fuel stratification was varied by adjusting the fraction of fuel injected late to produce stratification, and also by changing the timing of the late injection. The experiments show that a combination of 60 - 70% premixed charge and injection of 30 - 40% of the fuel at 80°CA before TDC is effective for smoothing the HRR. With CA50 held fixed, this increases the burn duration by 55% and reduces the maximum pressure-rise rate by 40%. Combustion stability remains high but engine-out NOx has to be monitored carefully. For operation with strong reduction of the peak HRR, ISNOx rises to around 0.20 g/kWh for an IMEPg of 440 kPa. The single-cylinder HCCI research engine was operated naturally aspirated without EGR at 1200 rpm, and had low residual level using a CR = 14 piston.