The pre-title teaser sequence shows Bond emerging from the water in a Latin American country. His mission is to destroy the operations of a drug lord, who deals heroin to finance revolutions. Bond infiltrates the man's secret lab and lays out a large quantity of C4 explosive with a timer. Shortly after he meets his contact in a nearby bar, the bomb explodes, destroying much of the drug lord's base of operations. Bond's contact tells him his flight to Miami is confirmed and Bond follows an exotic dancer (his lover on the mission) to her dressing room. Bond takes off his shoulder holster and pistol and kisses the woman. A man emerges from behind an armoire and attacks Bond, who holds the woman up as a shield. He struggles briefly with the henchman and throws him into the bathtub. The man seizes Bond's gun, prompting Bond to throw an electric heater in the water-filled tub, electrocuting the man. Bond leaves, plainly disgusted with the woman who betrayed him.
Bond's CIA contact, Felix Leiter, finds the agent in Miami Beach on respite. He informs Bond that M had charged him with a new mission; the observation of a man named Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger), an international jeweler who is suspected of smuggling. Bond charms his way into Goldfinger's hotel room and finds Jill Masterson, Goldfinger's mistress, watching him play cards through a set of binoculars. From her vantage point, Jill can see Goldfinger's opponent's hand and can relay instructions to Goldfinger, allowing him to cheat and win. Bond disrupts Jill's spying, telling Goldfinger that the Miami Beach police department would arrest him if they found out his scheme. He also orders Goldfinger to begin losing gradually to his opponent.
Bond invites Jill back to his own hotel room where they spend the afternoon and evening together. While Bond retrieves another bottle of champagne, he is hit from behind and falls unconscious. (A shadow on the wall shows a bulky figure wearing a brimmed hat.) When Bond awakes, he finds that Jill has been murdered; her entire body has been covered in gold paint and she has died of skin suffocation. Bond calls Leiter immediately to report the incident.
Bond reports back to London, meeting with M, who is largely disappointed at the turn of events. He threatens to replace Bond on the mission with 008, however, Bond reassures his boss that he can complete the mission himself. M orders Bond to attend a dinner meeting with a representative from the British Office of Finance to learn more about Goldfinger. As it turns out, the tycoon is a legitimate jeweler and thereby permitted to trade and refine gold legally around the world, yet his means of transporting his gold internationally remains unknown and Bond's mission is to prove if Goldfinger is smuggling his gold illegally. Bond suggests that he and his adversary meet socially and that he'll need some sort of bait to entice Goldfinger. The representative suggests a gold bar smelted by the Nazis during World War II.
Bond makes a brief visit to the lab of his weapons specialist, Q, who provides him with two tracking devices and a new car, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5. The car comes equipped with a tracking screen for the bugs that were given to Bond as well as a formidable weapons system (machine guns, oil slick, smokescreen, passenger ejector seat, & tire slashers) as well as bulletproof glass and revolving license plates.
Bond meets Goldfinger at a country club and joins him in a game. The two play to the 17th hole and, when Goldfinger suggests that Bond did not merely want to meet to play golf. Bond offers the Nazi gold bar to Goldfinger as a prize for winning the game. While playing the next hole, Bond discovers that, like cards, Goldfinger cheats at golf as well, finding a loose ball in the rough, planted there by Goldfinger's caddy, Oddjob, a large Korean man in a suit and bowler hat. On the next green, Bond switches Goldfinger's ball for the one he found. They play to the last green and Goldfinger seemingly wins the match until Bond points out that he played the wrong ball. As a result, Goldfinger loses the match and any chance of obtaining the gold bar Bond had offered. While his car is being packed up by Oddjob, Bond plants the larger tracker in the car and settles up with Goldfinger for his winnings. Goldfinger warns Bond to stay out of his affairs and orders Oddjob to demonstrate his favorite weapon, his blade-rimmed bowler hat, which he uses to decapitate a nearby marble statue. Goldfinger leaves for the airport, having his car loaded into a cargo plane and boarding it himself for Geneva, Switzerland.
Bond follows Goldfinger to Geneva, and while observing him from a mountain switchback above, is nearly hit by a shot from a nearby assassin. Bond pursues the assassin, forcing her off the road with the tire slashers mounted on his car. Not realizing that Bond caused the damage to her car, the driver asks Bond to drive her to the nearest auto garage. Bond notices that she's carrying a wooden case with the initials TM. She tells him they are a set of ice skates. Bond leaves her at the garage and continues his tracking of Goldfinger. He arrives at an industrial plant owned by Goldfinger. Hiding in the forested hills above the plant, he infiltrates the facility at night and overhears an conversation between Goldfinger and a Chinese associate where Goldfinger explains his gold smuggling operation: specific parts of his Roll Royce are solid 18 karat gold, which are smelted at the plant. Bond also hears Goldfinger mention something called "Operation Grand Slam." As he leaves the grounds, he sees someone nearby wielding a rifle. He wrestles with the person, discovering it is the woman who seemingly attempted to assassinate Bond earlier. It turns out she is Jill Masterson's sister, Tilly, who wants to kill Goldfinger and had tried unsuccessfully earlier on the mountain road, the same shot that nearly hit Bond. During their struggle, Tilly sets off a tripwire, summoning Goldfinger's security guards to their location. Bond is able to dispatch several guards with his cars weapons system, however, he is captured and Tilly is killed by Oddjob.
Bond awakes in Goldfinger's laboratory, strapped to a table. Goldfinger has his operatives activate a giant laser which threatens to cut Bond in half from his crotch upwards. Bond tries to inform Goldfinger that he has full details of his plans and that he'll be replaced by another 00 agent if he dies. Goldfinger, however, does not plan to torture Bond for information, just to kill him. Bond plays his last card, saying that he knows of Operation Grand Slam, as does 008. Goldfinger realizes that he should keep Bond alive so word of his plan doesn't leak.
Bond is flown from Geneva to Goldfinger's stud farm near Fort Knox, Kentucky. On the plane, he meets Goldfinger's personal pilot, Pussy Galore, whom makes a point of informing Bond that she is a lesbian and "immune" to his charms. When they land, a small squadron of planes lands; they are all female pilots trained by Galore herself. At Goldfinger's ranch, Goldfinger meets with several organized crime associates, telling them of his plan; he will rob the gold depositories at Fort Knox. The gangsters, who had helped Goldfinger smuggle the equipment and personnel needed for the operation into the United States, scoff at his plan, saying the area is too heavily fortified by the United States military. Goldfinger explains to them that his plan will involve using a nerve gas, Delta 9, to pacify the troops stationed nearby. The remainder of Ft. Knox' defenses will then be systematically defeated. Bond, escaping from his holding cell, writes a note describing the operation, while standing underneath one of the models used by Goldfinger in his presentation. He is discovered by Pussy Galore, who takes him to Goldfinger. As they leave the area underneath the model, one of Goldfinger's men releases Delta 9 into the room with the gangsters, killing them all.
Outside, one of the gangsters, Mr Solo, is preparing to leave with his fee, $1 million in pure gold, deeming Goldfinger's plan too audacious. As he leaves, Bond slips the note and his smaller tracking device into Solo's pocket. Solo is driven to the airport by Oddjob. On the way, Oddjob deliberately passes the airport exit and turns off on a side road. He kills Solo and drives the car to a nearby auto wrecking yard where it is compacted with Solo's body. Oddjob returns to Goldfinger's ranch with the compacted car where Goldfinger comments, to Bond's dismay, that he needs to retrieve his gold from it.
Bond meets again with Goldfinger and begins to discuss Grand Slam, citing the fact that removing $15 billion in bullion from Fort Knox would be logistically impossible, taking several days. The plan would fail quickly when the United States armed forces would move in and stop the operation. Goldfinger counters by saying he has no plans to actually steal the gold from the depository; he will detonate a small nuclear bomb inside the vault area. Bond surmises that the entire gold supply of the United States will become radioactive for decades and therefore useless. Bond also predicts that the resulting financial meltdown of the United States economy will force other nations to buy gold from Goldfinger himself, substantially increasing the tycoon's wealth. Pussy Galore meets Bond an takes him on an impromptu tour of the ranch. In a nearby barn, the two match judo moves on each other until Bond is able to gain the upper hand and seduce Pussy.
The next morning, Galore's flight squadron sprays the Delta 9 gas over the area surrounding Ft. Knox, pacifying all the troops and population of the area. Goldfinger's ground force, including Bond and Oddjob, move in and easily penetrate the immediate defenses of the fort and move into the vault area. The bomb arrives on a helicopter and is moved into the vault, where Bond is handcuffed to it. However, the gas sprayed by Galore's pilots was a ruse; during their tryst, Bond had somehow been able to convince Pussy to switch the canisters for something harmless. The armed forces of the area move in and surround Goldfinger and his crew, starting a furious battle. Goldfinger closes the vault door, trapping Bond, Oddjob and one of his henchmen inside. Bond manages to retrieve the key for his cuffs from the man after Oddjob kills him and battles with Oddjob directly. Bond is little match for Oddjob himself, but is able to retrieve Oddjob's deadly hat. Throwing it at Oddjob, he misses and it becomes embedded in a nearby set of bars. As Oddjob grabs it to take it out, Bond touches the bars with a severed electrical cable, electrocuting Oddjob, who falls dead. Outside, Goldfinger escapes by killing several guards in the guise of a US Army Colonel and flies off in Galore's helicopter.
Bond races to the bomb, trying desperately to disarm it. The US army enters the vault, lead by Leiter. One of the men with Leiter shuts the bomb off easily; the timer on the bomb clearly reads 007. Bond is scheduled to fly to the White House for a personal meeting with the President. While on the private jet to Washington, Goldfinger emerges, pointing a (golden) pistol at Bond. He tells Bond that he intends to kill the agent and fly the plane to Cuba. Bond asks where Pussy is, distracting Goldfinger, and attacking him to seize the gun. As they struggle, the gun goes off, blowing out a window, causing the plane to depressurize. Goldfinger is sucked outside and the plane plummets. Watching on a radar screen, Felix and the Air Force see a blip coming off the plane's radar signature. A search party is sent out, one that fails to notice a parachute nearby. Pussy begins waving to the helicopter but Bond grabs her, covering them with the parachute, cheekily saying they don't need to be rescued at that moment.