Accurate predictions of low-temperature heat release (LTHR) are critical for modeling auto-ignition processes in internal combustion engines. While LTHR is typically obscured by deflagration, extremely late ignition phasing can lead to LTHR prior to the spark, a behavior known as pre-spark heat release (PSHR). In this research, PSHR in a boosted direct-injection spark-ignition engine was studied using 3-D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and detailed chemical kinetics. The turbulent combustion was modeled via a hybrid approach that incorporates the G-equation model for tracking the turbulent flame front, and the well-stirred reactor model with detailed chemistry for assessing the low-temperature reactions in unburnt gas. Simulations were conducted using Co-Optima alkylate and E30 fuels at operating conditions characterized by different PSHR intensities. The predicted in-cylinder pressure and heat release rate were found to agree well with experiments. It was found the estimate of previous-cycle trapped residuals is of utmost importance for capturing PSHR correctly. A simulation best practice was developed which keeps the detailed chemistry solver active throughout the entire simulation, allowing to track the evolution of intermediate species from one cycle to the next. Following the validation, the dynamics of PSHR were analyzed in detail employing the pressure-temperature (P-T) trajectory framework. It was shown that PSHR correlated with the first-stage ignition delay of the fuel, hence showing close relation to the in-cylinder P-T trajectory and the chemical kinetics. Besides, it was indicated that LTHR is a self-limiting process that has the effect of attenuating the thermal stratification in the combustion chamber. Furthermore, it was observed the occurrence of PSHR caused the P-T trajectory of end-gas to overlap with the negative temperature coefficient region of the fuel’s ignition-delay maps. This effect was more significant in the fuel-rich regions where engine knock tendency would be generally higher, with potential implications on knock control and mitigation.