Hot strip rolling process is one of the most promising industrial processes to fabricate finished or semi-finished bulk products. Numerical analysis on the temperature and thermal stress distributions in a high speed steel work roll during hot rolling has been conducted based on a transient thermo-mechanical model. Influence of initial work roll body temperature on temperature and thermal stress has been discussed in detail by assuming different rolling stages. Compared to the work roll surface, stress is much smaller at depth of 2.1 mm and 5.0 mm, respectively. Results showed similar maximum circumferential thermal stress at both depths of 2.1 mm and 5.0 mm when the roll has initial temperature of 25 °C and 100 °C, but they are about 3 times and 8 times larger than at depth of 2.1 mm and 5.0 mm, respectively, when the initial temperature is 200 °C.