After destroying a drug laboratory in Latin America, MI6 agent James Bond travels to Miami Beach for a vacation. He receives instructions from his superior, M, via CIA agent Felix Leiter to observe bullion dealer Auric Goldfinger at the hotel there. Bond discovers Goldfinger is cheating at gin rummy with the help of his employee, Jill Masterson, and Bond stops him by distracting Jill and blackmails Goldfinger into losing. After Bond and Jill consummate their new relationship, Bond is knocked out by Goldfinger’s Korean manservant Oddjob. When Bond awakens, he finds Jill dead, covered in gold paint, having died from “skin suffocation”.
In London, the governor of the Bank of England and M explain to Bond that gold prices vary across the world, allowing one to profit by selling bullion internationally, and his objective is determining how Goldfinger smuggles the gold across borders. To help in his mission, Q gives Bond a modified Aston Martin DB5 and two tracking devices. Bond arranges to meet Goldfinger socially at his country club in Kent, and wins a golf game against him with a recovered Nazi gold bar (lent to him by Mi6 for the mission) at stake. Aware of Bond’s ulterior motives, Goldfinger, before leaving, warns Bond not to interfere in his affairs, reinforcing the threat by having Oddjob demonstrate his steel-rimmed derby as a deadly weapon. Bond follows Goldfinger to Switzerland, where Tilly, Jill’s sister, attempts to avenge her sister by assassinating Goldfinger with a rifle, but fails.
Bond sneaks into Goldfinger’s plant, where he finds out how Goldfinger smuggles gold: he observes Goldfinger showing and explaining to Chinese nuclear physicist Mr. Ling that he does it through his Rolls-Royce Phantom III that he takes with him whenever he travels, hiding some of the gold in secret compartments, and melting the rest down to incorporate it into the car’s bodywork. Bond also overhears Goldfinger talking to Mr. Ling about something of importance called “Operation Grand Slam”. Leaving, Bond encounters Tilly as she tries to kill Goldfinger again, but trips an alarm in the process. Bond tries to protect Tilly but Oddjob kills her with his hat, and Bond is captured and tied to a solid gold table underneath an industrial laser, which begins slicing through the table toward him. He then lies to Goldfinger that MI6 knows about Operation Grand Slam, causing Goldfinger to spare Bond’s life so as to mislead MI6 into believing Bond has things in hand.
Bond is transported by Goldfinger’s private jet, piloted by Pussy Galore, to his stud farm near Louisville, Kentucky. Bond escapes his cell and witnesses Goldfinger’s meeting with American mafiosi, who have brought, as he hired them for, the materials he needs for Operation Grand Slam, discovering it is the name of Goldfinger’s plan to rob the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, which will largely be done by the release of Delta 9 nerve gas into the atmosphere. After Bond is recaptured by Pussy, Goldfinger has the mafiosi killed using the gas.
Bond points out to Goldfinger that his plan to rob the entire depository will not work, as he will not have enough time to move the gold before the American forces intervene. Goldfinger hints he does not intend to steal the gold, and Bond deduces that Ling has supplied a dirty bomb that Goldfinger will detonate inside the vault to irradiate the gold and make it useless for 58 years. This will increase the value of Goldfinger’s own gold and give the Chinese an advantage from the potential economic chaos. Goldfinger threatens that should the Americans attempt to locate the bomb or interfere with his plan, he will simply have it detonated somewhere else of significance in the United States.
Operation Grand Slam begins with Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus spraying the gas over Fort Knox, seemingly killing all of the military and government personnel nearby, including Felix. Goldfinger’s private army breaks into Fort Knox and accesses the vault as Goldfinger arrives in a helicopter with the bomb. In the vault, his henchman Kisch handcuffs Bond to the bomb. Unbeknownst to Goldfinger, however, Bond has convinced Galore to alert the Americans and replace the gas with a harmless substance. The troops arise and attack, killing many of Goldfinger’s men. Seeing this, Goldfinger locks the vault, takes off his coat to reveal a US Army colonel’s uniform, and kills Ling and several soldiers before escaping.
Bond, Oddjob, and Kisch are trapped in the vault. Kisch realises this and attempts to stop the bomb, but Oddjob throws him to his death. Bond frees himself with Kisch’s handcuff keys, but the superhumanly strong Oddjob batters him before he can disarm the bomb. Eventually Bond manages to electrocute Oddjob, then forces the lock off the bomb using gold bullion bars from the vault, but ultimately is unable to disarm the complex mechanism. After finally killing all of Goldfinger’s men, the troops open the vault and rush inside. An atomic specialist who accompanied Leiter arrives with seconds to spare, and simply turns off the device, with the timer stopping on “007”.
Bond is invited to the White House for lunch with the President. However, Goldfinger hijacks the plane carrying Bond there. In a struggle for Goldfinger’s revolver, the gun fires, shooting out a window, creating an explosive decompression. Goldfinger is blown out of the cabin through the ruptured window. With the plane out of control, Bond rescues Galore and they parachute safely from the aircraft before it crashes into the ocean. A search helicopter passes, but Bond declares “this is no time to be rescued”, and draws the parachute over himself and Galore.