Engine downsizing with a turbocharger / supercharger has attracted attention as a way of improving the fuel economy of automotive gasoline engines, but this approach can be frustrated by the occurrence of abnormal combustion. In this study, the factors causing abnormal combustion were investigated using a supercharged, downsized engine that was built by adding a mechanical supercharger. Combustion experiments were conducted in which the fuel octane number and supercharging pressure were varied while keeping the engine speed, equivalence ratio and intake air temperature constant. In the experiments, a visualization technique was applied to photograph combustion in the combustion chamber, absorption spectroscopy was used to investigate the intermediate products of combustion, and the cylinder pressure was measured. The experimental data obtained simultaneously were then analyzed to examine the effects on combustion. The results showed that increasing fuel octane number had effect of moderating combustion by lengthening period from development of a cool flame to occurrence of autoignition. Additionally, increasing the supercharging pressure retarded the onset of the cool flame reactions and advanced the occurrence of autoignition.