Artificial ground freezing is an effective ground improvement technique to deal with diverse geotechnical construction problems as it serves to cut off the water and also improves the ground soil strength. However, ground freezing may produce frost heave and thaw settlement at the ground surface. Predicting and controlling the frost heave is a challenge to engineering construction in a heavily populated city. This paper proposes an analysis model that couples the water freezing, temperature and stress fields. This model is first applied to an underground excavation problem of a corridor where ground freezing is used. The numerical predictions are compared with field measurements. It is then applied for a model tunnel problem to study the effect of the overlying soil thickness, frozen soil wall thickness, excavation radius and brine temperature on the frost heave. It is found that the vertical component of the frost heave follows a normal distribution with a maximum at the tunnel axis, while the horizontal component reaches a maximum at a distance from the tunnel axis. This distance is directly proportional to the thickness of the overlying soil. A critical brine temperature is also found at which the frost heave at the ground surface reaches a maximum. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.