Laser surface texturing (LST) technique was utilised on a cylinder liner in a diesel engine. In order to analyse the effect of LST micro-dimples on the lubrication and friction properties of cylinder liner–piston ring (CL–PR), we developed a new mixed lubrication model on the basis of the average Reynolds equation and asperity contacts equation. The model can consider the coupling effects between the surface roughness of non-texturing regions and micro-dimples and the synergistic effects of multi-micro-dimples. The results show that cylinder liner surface by LST can form effective hydrodynamic lubrication effect in most regions of the strokes, only near the dead points, the friction pair is in mixed lubrication state, asperity contact plays a major role in balancing the external load and the asperity friction force is obvious. The micro-dimple parameters were optimised to obtain a better lubrication effect with the following optimised results: rp = 30–60 µm, Sp = 0.2–0.4 and e = 0.03–0.1. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.