The stereoscopic molecular tagging velocimetry (SMTV) technique is used to obtain the multiple point measurement of an instantaneous three-component velocity field inside the cylinder of an internal combustion (IC) engine assembly. A novel image processing technique is implemented to obtain the velocity data. The technique has the advantage that it eliminates the geometric details required to obtain the three components of the velocity field. The procedure involves two major steps: (i) calibration process and (ii) data acquisition and reduction. Cycle-to-cycle variations of the three-component velocity field and out-of-plane vorticity are presented inside an engine cylinder. Preliminary results show that cycle-to-cycle variations are more prominent in the velocity component perpendicular to the tumble plane, as opposed to the in-plane components. Such new insights will help better understand the details of these flows and further improve CFD models for IC engines. 2008 Springer-Verlag.