This review work focuses on biofuels with lower viscosity and cetane number and their mode of operation in a diesel engine. Though there were a number of review works describing the production, characterization and utilization of biodiesel, synthesized from vegetable oils, a comprehensive summary on other category of biofuels endowed with lower viscosity and cetane number has not come to light so far. In this backdrop, this review work would bring forth the existence of biofuels having lower viscosity and cetane number, classify them under one category and elucidate their operational feasibility in a diesel engine. Considerably, alcohol based fuels such as methanol, ethanol and butanol, and plant based light biofuels such as eucalyptus oil and pine oil have been chosen and classified as LVLC (less viscous and lower cetane) fuels in the current work. Besides describing the operation feasibility of these fuels, an extensive exploration of their physical, thermal and critical properties as well as their compositional attributes has been made. Despite their distinct properties, these fuels have found use in diesel engine by various strategies and apparently, they could be used in blends with diesel/biodiesel, dual fuel mode and as sole fuel. In this regard, herein, a detailed summary on operation of these fuels in the reported three different modes is clearly explained and their engine characteristics such as performance, combustion and emission are briefed. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.