This article will compare two different fuzzy-derived techniques for controlling small internal combustion engine and modeling fuel spray penetration in the cylinder of a diesel internal combustion engine. The first case study is implemented using conventional fuzzy-based paradigm, where human expertise and operator knowledge were used to select the parameters for the system. The second case study used an adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS), where automatic adjustment of the system parameters is affected by a neural networks based on prior knowledge. The ANFIS model was shown to achieve an improved accuracy compared to a pure fuzzy model, based on conveniently selected parameters. Future work is concentrating on the establishment of an improved neuro-fuzzy paradigm for adaptive, fast and accurate control of small internal combustion engines.