The objectives of this pyrolysis investigation were to determine changes in (1) oil composition, (2) gas composition and (3) gas carbon isotope ratios and to compare these results with hydrocarbons in reservoirs. Laboratory cracking of a saturate-rich Devonian oil by confined, dry pyrolysis was performed at T = 350-450??C, P = 650 bars and times ranging from 24 h to 33 days. Increasing thermal stress results in the C15+ hydrocarbon fraction cracking to form C6-14 and C1-5 hydrocarbons and pyrobitumen. The C6-14 fraction continues to crack to C 1-5 gases plus pyrobitumen at higher temperatures and prolonged heating time and the ?? 13Cethane-?? 13Cpropane difference becomes greater as oil cracking progresses. There is considerable overlap in product generation and product cracking. Oil cracking products accumulate either because the rate of generation of any product is greater than the rate of removal by cracking of that product or because the product is a stable end member under the experimental conditions. Oil cracking products decrease when the amount of product generated from a reactant is less than the amount of product cracked. If pyrolysis gas compositions are representative of gases generated from oil cracking in nature, then understanding the processes that alter natural gas composition is critical. ?? 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.