The fluid-mechanic behaviour of straight-sided and re-entrant chamber geometries has been studied using laser doppler anemometry (LDA) technique. Measurements have been carried out during the compression stroke in a direct injection diesel engine, representative of medium size family, operating at 1000 rpm under motored conditions. The mean motion and turbulence intensity have been computed using a filtering procedure on the LDA data.Using the second version of KIVA code, the air flow field evolution during the same crank angle period has been also computed. To perform proper comparisons between measured and computed values of mean velocity and turbulence intensity, a careful choice of the initial conditions for computations has been performed.Reasonable agreement has been found between computed and measured mean swirl velocities for both combustion chamber geometries tested. On the contrary, the computed turbulence intensities underestimate those measured.