The special application environment puts forward the higher requirement of reliability of parts made from titanium alloy Ti–6Al–4V, which is closely related to the machining-induced residual stress. For the fact of the non-linear distribution of residual stress beneath the machined surface, distribution of peripheral milling-induced residual stress and its effect on fatigue performance of titanium alloy Ti–6Al–4V are still confusing. In the present study, residual stress profile induced by peripheral milling of Ti–6Al–4V is first studied. And then, energy criteria are proposed to characterise the whole state of the residual stress field. Finally, the effects of residual stress profile and surface energy on tensile–tensile fatigue performance of titanium alloy Ti–6Al–4V are discussed. The conclusions were drawn that the variation trend of surface residual stress (σr,Sur), maximum compressive residual stress (σC,ax), location (hr0) and response depth (hry) of residual stress profile with cutting parameters showed a similar pattern for both measure directions those parallel (σ1) and perpendicular (σ3) to the cutting direction. Cutting speed and feed rate have a main effect on surface residual stress, and the depth of cut has little effect on all the four key factors of residual stress profile. With the increase of cutting speed and feed rate, machining-induced surface energy tends to become larger. But increasing the depth of cut caused the strain energy stored in unit time to decrease. Furthermore, the effect of depth of cut on surface energy was weakened when the value of cutting depth becomes larger. Both the surface compressive residual stress and the maximum compressive residual stress are beneficial for prolonging the fatigue life, while large value of machining-induced surface energy leads to a decrease of fatigue life. Analysis of variance result shows that maximum residual compressive stress has a greater impact on fatigue life than other residual stress factors.