On a deserted highway, a heist crew driving three modified black 5th-generation Honda Civics assault a truck carrying electronic goods, steal its cargo, and escape into the night.
The following day, a joint Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and FBI task force sends LAPD officer Brian O’Conner undercover to locate the crew. He begins his investigation at Toretto’s Market, ordering his regular tuna on white, no crust, and flirting with its owner Mia, sister of the infamous street racer Dominic Toretto, while Dominic ostensibly sits in the back office reading a newspaper. Dominic’s crew, Vince, Leon, Jesse, and his girlfriend Letty, arrives. Vince, who has a crush on Mia, starts a fight with Brian until Dominic intervenes.
That night, Brian brings a modified 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse to an illegal street race, hoping to find a lead on the heist crew. Dominic arrives in his Mazda RX-7 and initiates a drag race between himself, Brian and two other drivers. Lacking funds, Brian is forced to wager his car. Dominic wins the race after Brian’s car malfunctions, but the LAPD arrive before he can hand over his vehicle. Brian, in his car, helps Dominic escape, but they accidentally venture into the territory of Dominic’s old racing rival, gang leader Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance Nguyen, who destroy Brian’s vehicle. Later, Dominic reiterates that Brian still owes him a “10 second car”. The two then walk back to Dominic’s house together, where an altercation between Vince, who is upset that Brian is at the house, and Dominic breaks out.
Brian brings a damaged 1994 Toyota Supra to Dominic’s garage as a replacement. Dominic and his crew begin the long process of restoring the vehicle, and Brian starts dating Mia. He also begins investigating Tran, convinced that he is the mastermind behind the truck hijackings. While investigating one garage at night, Brian is discovered by Dominic and Vince who demand an explanation. Brian convinces them that he is researching his opponents vehicles for the upcoming desert Race Wars. Together, the trio investigate Tran’s garage, discovering a large quantity of electronic goods.
Brian reports the discovery to his superiors and Tran and Lance are arrested. The raid fails however when the electronics are proved to have been purchased legally. Brian is forced to confront his suspicion that Dominic is the true mastermind. Brian is given 36 hours to find the heist crew, as the truckers are now arming themselves to defend against the hijackings. The following day, Dominic and Brian attend Race Wars. There, Jesse wagers his father’s MK3 Volkswagen Jetta against Tran in his Honda S2000, but flees with the car after he loses. Tran demands Dominic recover the vehicle, and accuses him of reporting him to the police. Enraged, Dominic beats up Tran.
Later that night, Brian witnesses Dominic and his crew leaving and realizes that they are the hijackers. He reveals his true identity to Mia and convinces her to help him find the crew. Dominic, Letty, Vince, and Leon attack a semi-trailer truck, intending it to be their final heist. The armed driver shoots Vince and runs Letty off the road. Brian arrives with Mia and rescues Vince. He is forced to reveal his identity to call in emergency medical care to save Vince. Dominic, Mia and the rest of the crew leave before the authorities can arrive.
Some time later, Brian arrives at Dominic’s house to apprehend him as he is reversing his father’s 1970 Dodge Charger R/T out of the garage. Jesse arrives, pleading for protection. Tran and Lance ride by on motorbikes and shoot Jesse for reneging on their bet. Brian and Dominic give chase in their separate vehicles, finding and killing Tran and injuring Lance. Brian then pursues Dominic, with them both eventually acquiescing to a quarter-mile drag race. The pair barely cross a railroad before a train passes, which ends the race in a draw, but Dominic crashes his car into a truck. Instead of arresting him, Brian gives the keys to his own car to Dominic, asserting that he still owes him a 10-second car from their first race. Dominic escapes in the Supra as Brian walks away.
In the post-credits scene, Dominic is seen driving through Baja California, Mexico, in a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS.