The initial flame kernel behavior in a SI engine was measured by a spark-plug-fiber-optics probe. From these measurements, the flame kernel may be characterized by an expansion speed and a convection velocity. These quantities were correlated with the bum rate on a cycle-to-cycle basis in an engine configurated with quiescent, swirl, and tumble in-cylinder motion. The expansion speed correlates well with the 0-2 percent mass burn duration for all the configurations. The flame convection velocity depends on the in-cylinder motion in the expected manner. There was, however, only a weak correlation between the 10-90 percent burn duration and the initial flame kernel behavior.