In order to investigate the effect of thermal expansion on the ball screw feed system (BSFS) of a precision machine tool, theoretical modeling of and experimental study on thermally induced error are focused in this paper. A series of thermal experiments are conducted on the machine tool to measure the temperature of the main heat source and measuring points of BSFS. To classify the main heat sources and discuss the impact on the ball screw feed system separately. By the experimental data of ball screw system, the thermal model of screw shaft in the axial direction is analyzed and verified. Based on the heat generation and transfer analysis of ball screw system, thermal expansion of screw shaft in the axial direction is modeled mathematically. In addition, by analyzing the effects of machining parameters such as rotational speed, preloads and lead, we get the parameter influence of BSFS’s temperature rising and thermal deformation. This work can help us reduce thermal deformation effectively, and improve the precision of CNC machining.