This work examines the effects of valve timing and back pressure on the engine out enthalpy flow which is critical to the light off of the catalyst. The engine behavior is observed under fast-idle condition using a turbocharged production direct injection spark ignition engine with variable cam phasing that could shift both the intake and exhaust valve timing by 50 deg. crank angle. The back pressure is adjusted by throttling the exhaust. The engine operates at a constant net indicated mean effective pressure of 2 bar. The valve timing effect is largely governed by the residual gas trapped. With increasing valve overlap, the exhaust enthalpy flow increases because of the increase in exhaust temperature due to a slower combustion, and of the increase in air and fuel flow to compensate for the lower efficiency due to the slower combustion. When the back pressure is increased, the engine through flow has to increase to compensate for the larger pumping loss. The exhaust temperature also increases because there is less expansion for the charge in the blow-down process. Both effects contribute to a higher enthalpy flow to the catalyst and facilitate the light off process.