The plasma spray deposition of a zirconia thermal barrier coating (TBC) on a gas turbine component has been examined using analytical and experimental techniques. The coating thickness was simulated by the use of commercial off-line programming software. The impinging jet was modelled by means of a finite difference elliptic code using a simplified turbulence model. Powder particle velocity, temperature history and trajectory were calculated using a stochastic discrete particle model. The heat transfer and fluid flow model were then used to calculate transient coating and substrate temperatures using the finite element method. The predicted thickness, temperature and velocity of the particles and the coating temperatures were compared with these measurements and good correlations were obtained. The coating microstructure was evaluated by optical and scanning microscopy techniques. Special attention was paid to the crack structures within the top coating. Finally, the correlation between the modelled parameters and the deposit microstructure was studied.