Air motion inside the cylinder is very important from the point of view of energy efficiency. In this direction, piston configuration plays a very crucial role. This study is concerned with the CFD analysis of in-cylinder air motion coupled with the comparison of predicted results with the experimental results available in the literature. Four configurations viz., flat, inclined, centre bowl and inclined offset bowl pistons have been studied. For numerical analysis STAR-CD CFD software has been used. Experimental results available in the literature for comparison are obtained by PIV measurements. From this study, it is concluded that a centre bowl on flat piston is found to be the best from the point of view of tumble ratio, turbulent kinetic energy, turbulent intensity and turbulent length scale which play very important role in imparting proper air motion, there by increasing the energy efficiency of the engine. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.