A 3D integrated numerical model is constructed to evaluate the thermal-fluid behavior and thermal stress characteristics of a planar anode-supported solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Effects of anode porosity on performance, temperature gradient and thermal stress are investigated. Using commercial Star-CD software with the es-sofc module, simulations are performed to obtain the current–voltage (I–V) characteristics of a fuel cell as a function of the anode porosity and the temperature distribution within the fuel cell under various operating conditions. The temperature field is then imported into the MARC finite element analysis (FEA) program to analyze thermal stresses induced within the cell. The numerical results are found to be in good agreement with the experimental data. It is shown that the maximum principal stress within the positive electrode–electrolyte–negative electrode (PEN) increases at a higher current and a higher temperature gradient. It is recommended that the temperature gradient should be limited to less than 10.6 °C mm-1 to maintain the structural integrity of the PEN.