Part of the heat generated by the shearing of the lubricating film during operation of a hydrodynamic bearing is transferred to the bearing components. In the case of the pad, which is usually fully submerged in the lubricating oil, heat is further transferred at the pad free walls to the oil by convection. This mechanism causes a thermal gradient in a pad and, consequently, its thermal deflection. In large hydrodynamic thrust bearings, thermal deflection of the pads is an important phenomenon influencing bearing performance. For such bearings, pad distortion can reach the level of hydrodynamic film thickness and can significantly change the bearing's properties. In this paper, the study of the influence of the heat convection coefficient on the predicted performance of a large hydrodynamic thrust bearing is presented. Two sets of convection coefficients at the pad free surfaces are investigated with the use of thermo-elasto-hydrodynamic (TEHD) calculations. An analysis is carried out for the Itaipu hydro turbine thrust bearing with the outer diameter equal to 5.2 m, which is one of the biggest hydro power plants in the world. The results of the theoretical predictions are compared to the measured data collected during bearing operation.