In this paper experimental results of a medium duty single cylinder research engine with spark ignition are presented. The engine was operated with stoichiometric natural gas combustion and additional charge dilution by means of external and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).The first part of this work considers the benefits of cooled EGR on thermo-mechanical stress of the engine including exhaust gas temperature, cylinder head temperature, and knock behaviour. This is followed by the analysis of the influence of cooled EGR on the heat release rate. In this context the impact of fuel gas composition is also under investigation. The influence of increasing EGR on fuel efficiency, which is caused by a changed combustion process due to higher fractions of inert gases, is shown in this section. By application of different pistons a relationship between the piston bowl geometry and the flame propagation has been demonstrated. Unstable combustion due to increasing charge dilution could be shifted to higher EGR rates by means of adapted piston geometry. By increasing EGR a correlation between the required advancement of spark timing and the process of heat release is shown. These relationships are finally compared to lean natural gas combustion.