Thermal tumour ablation techniques such as radiofrequency (RF) ablation are applied for radical removal of local tumours as an easier, less invasive alternative to surgical resection. A serious drawback of thermal ablation, however, is that the ablation area cannot be accurately assessed during the procedure. To achieve real-time feedback and exact and safe ablation, a superfine thermocouple-needle system (TNS) comprising a 0.25-mm diameter thermocouple embedded in a 22-G, 15-cm-long needle was devised and efficacy was tested in vitro using porcine livers (n = 15) and in vivo using rabbit back muscles (n = 2) and livers (n = 3). A 17-gauge RF electrode with a 2 cm active tip was used for ablation. The TNS was inserted 1 cm from the active tip of the RF electrode and liver temperature around the electrode was measured concurrently. The RF current was cut off when the temperature reached 60°C or after 5 min at ≥50°C. Porcine livers and rabbit back muscles were then cut along a plane passing through the axes of the electrode and the TNS. In rabbit livers, contrast-enhanced CT was performed to evaluate ablation areas. Ablation areas in cut surfaces of porcine livers exhibited well-defined discoloured regions and the TNS tip precisely pinpointed the margin of the ablation area. Contrast-enhanced CT of rabbit livers showed the TNS tip accurately located at the margin of areas without contrast enhancement. These results indicate that the TNS can accurately show ablation margins and that placing the TNS tip at the intended ablation margin permits exact thermal ablation.