This work is concerned with thermal ablation modeling in carbon fiber-reinforced polymer-matrix composite laminates subjected to the lightnig strike. Both direct heat injection and Joule heating produced by the lightning current are taken into account. First, a model describing interaction of the lightning current channel with a conductive structure is presented. The model includes channel expansion and spatial and temporal distribution of the lightning current and linghtning-induced heat flux. Second, anisotropic electrical and thermal properties of the CFRP composite laminates are determined in a wide temperature range (up to the sublimation temperature of the carbon fibers) using experimental data and micromechanics considerations. Third, a nonlinear thermo-electric coupled problem is formulated and solved for a CFRP composite laminate to determine the electric-current-induced temperature distribution and associated thermal ablation. Finally, the obtained predictions of thermal ablation in the CFRP composite laminate are compared to the reported experimental results. It is found that the predicted thermal ablation depths agree well with those reported in the experimental study.