A single cylinder, constant speed, direct injection diesel engine was operated on neat Jatropha oil. Injection timing, injector opening pressure, injection rate and air swirl level were changed to study their influence on performance, emissions and combustion. Results have been compared with neat diesel operation. The injection timing was varied by changing the position of the fuel injection pump with respect to the cam and injection rate was varied by changing the diameter of the plunger of the fuel injection pump. A properly oriented masked inlet valve was employed to enhance the air swirl level. Advancing the injection timing from the base diesel value and increasing the injector opening pressure increase the brake thermal efficiency and reduce HC and smoke emissions significantly. Enhancing the swirl has only a small effect on emissions. The ignition delay with Jatropha oil is always higher than that of diesel under similar conditions. Improved premixed heat release rates were observed with Jatropha oil when the injector opening pressure is enhanced. When the injection timing is retarded with enhanced injection rate, a significant improvement in performance and emissions was noticed. In this case emissions with Jatropha oil are even lower than diesel. At full output, the HC emission level is 532 ppm with Jatropha oil as against 798 ppm with diesel. NO level and smoke with Jatropha oil are, respectively 1162.5 ppm and 2 BSU while they are 1760 ppm and 2.7 BSU with diesel. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.