The chief aim of the work concerns the optimisation of a forced convection air cooling system and particularly of the external heat exchange surfaces, applied on a small internal combustion two-stroke engine. At the present time in the industrial practice, the design of cooling system and of fin arrays is developed by means of simple technical criteria, starting fiom the assumption to consider the thermal loading of engine about 30% of the power furnished by fuel.This paper describes an approach that combines theoretical and simulation techniques with experimental methods.Attention is primarily focused on the most important input data of this kind of optimisation represented by the thermal load of the engine. Then attempts are made to establish some general criteria for the optimum design. The proposed calculation methods have carried out the creation of a PC software, useful instrument for the design phase of a new engine or for the improvement of an old one. To support theoretical analysis experimental activity was canied on, fiom which were obtained a series of usell reference data to evaluate the thermal behaviour of small two-stroke i.c. engines.