Interest in natural gas as an alternative fuel source to petroleum fuels for light-duty vehicle applications has increased due to its domestic availability and stable price compared to gasoline. With its higher hydrogen-to-carbon ratio, natural gas has the potential to reduce engine out carbon dioxide emissions, which has shown to be a strong greenhouse gas contributor. For part-load conditions, the lower flame speeds of natural gas can lead to an increased duration in the inflammation process with traditional port-injection. Direct-injection of natural gas can increase in-cylinder turbulence and has the potential to reduce problems typically associated with port-injection of natural gas, such as lower flame speeds and poor dilution tolerance.A study was designed and executed to investigate the effects of direct-injection of natural gas at part-load conditions. Steady-state tests were performed on a single-cylinder research engine representative of current gasoline direct-injection engines. Tests were performed with direct-injection in the central and side location. The start of injection was varied under stoichiometric conditions in order to study the effects on the mixture formation process. In addition, exhaust gas recirculation was introduced at select conditions in order to investigate the dilution tolerance. Relevant combustion metrics were then analyzed for each scenario.Experimental results suggest that regardless of the injector location, varying the start of injection has a strong impact on the mixture formation process. Delaying the start of injection from 300 to 120°CA BTDC can reduce the early flame development process by nearly 15°CA. While injecting into the cylinder after the intake valves have closed has shown to produce the fastest combustion process, this does not necessarily lead to the highest efficiency, due to increases in pumping and wall heat losses. When comparing the two injection configurations, the side location shows the best performance in terms of combustion metrics and efficiencies. For both systems, part-load dilution tolerance is affected by the injection timing, due to the induced turbulence from the gaseous injection event. CFD simulation results have shown that there is a fundamental difference in how the two injection locations affect the mixture formation process. Delayed injection timing increases the turbulence level in the cylinder at the time of the spark, but reduces the available time for proper mixing. Side injection delivers a gaseous jet that interacts more effectively with the intake induced flow field, and this improves the engine performance in terms of efficiency.