Biodiesel is a promising candidate to partially or completely replace diesel. A surrogate approach to simplify the chemical kinetic representation of its long chain methyl ester components is adopted in this work to circumvent the difficulty in integrating its large reaction schemes with engine combustion simulations. Firstly, a compact reaction scheme for potentially important candidates for biodiesel surrogates is derived by combining a detailed mechanism for methyl butanoate (Dooley et al., Combust. Flame, 2008) and n-dodecane (Narayanaswamy et al., Combust. Flame, 2014) and is comprehensively assessed for its component kinetic description. Thereafter, a constrained optimization approach is used to propose a surrogate for biodiesel fuels. The surrogate and its kinetics are evaluated for these real fuels. Furthermore, the importance of representing the unsaturated content in the biodiesel is investigated by using 1-butene as a surrogate component. This work serves as our first step towards the development of a compact reaction scheme for a biodiesel surrogate which will be coupled with an engine CFD code to study the application of biodiesels and its blends with diesel in compression ignition engines. © 2017 Eastern States Section of the Combustion Institute. All rights reserved.