This article reports the effects of CuO/water based coolant on specific fuel consumption and exhaust emissions of four stroke single cylinder diesel engine. The CuO nanoparticles of 27 nm were used to prepare the nanofluid-based engine coolant. Three different volume concentrations (i.e 0.05%, 0.1%, and 0.2%) of CuO/water nanofluids were prepared by using two-step method. The purpose of this study is to investigate the exhaust emissions (NOx), exhaust gas temperature and specific fuel consumption under different load conditions with CuO/water nanofluid. After a series of experiments, it was observed that the CuO/water nanofluids, even at low volume concentrations, have a significant influence on exhaust emissions. The experimental results revealed that, at full load condition, the specific fuel consumption was reduced by 8.6%, 15.1% and 21.1% for the addition of 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2% CuO nanoparticles with water, respectively. Also, the emission tests were concluded that 881 ppm, 853 ppm and 833 ppm of NOx emissions were observed at high load with 0.05%, 0.1% and 0.2% volume concentrations of CuO/water nanofluids, respectively.