Osteoid osteoma is treated primarily by radiofrequency (RF) ablation. However, there is little information about the distribution of heat in bone during the procedure and its safety. We constructed a model of osteoid osteoma to assess the distribution of heat in bone and to define the margins of safety for ablation. Cavities were drilled in cadaver bovine bones and filled with a liver homogenate to simulate the tumour matrix. Temperature-sensing probes were placed in the bone in a radial fashion away from the cavities. RF ablation was performed 107 times in tumours < 10 mm in diameter (72 of which were in cortical bone, 35 in cancellous bone), and 41 times in cortical bone with models > 10 mm in diameter. Significantly higher temperatures were found in cancellous bone than in cortical bone (p < 0.05). For lesions up to 10 mm in diameter, in both bone types, the temperature varied directly with the size of the tumour (p < 0.05), and inversely with the distance from it. Tumours of > 10 mm in diameter showed a trend similar to those of smaller lesions. No temperature rise was seen beyond 12 mm from the edge of a cortical tumour of any size. Formulae were developed to predict the expected temperature in the bone during ablation.