Tommy and Annika live with their parents in a small town. Beside their house is an uninhabited house called Villa Villekulla. One day a girl moves into Villa Villekulla with a horse and a monkey, but no parents. She tells Tommy and Annika that her name is Pippi Longstocking, that her mother is in heaven and that her father is a local king at an island in the South Pacific. Miss Prysselius asks the police officers Kling and Klang to bring Pippi to an orphanage, but they cannot seize her, because she is the strongest girl in the world.
Pippi leads Tommy and Annika on a hunt for things thrown away. Pippi finds a rusty can and a wooden spool, but Tommy and Annika find nothing until Pippi gives them some hint of where to look. In the afternoon Pippi is invited to a coffee party at Tommy's and Annika's home. When she arrives to the party, she immediately breaks all rules of etiquette, smashes things and makes all the ladies totally shocked.
Pippi takes a handful of gold-coins from her old suitcase and brings Tommy and Annika on a shopping-spree. In a sweet-shop Pippi buys almost all the sweets they have for sale. Outside the shop a lot of children are gathering and when Pippi steps out of the door, she gives an abundance of sweets to all of them. She also brings the children to a toyshop, where she buys toys to all of them.
Pippi takes Tommy and Annika on a ride to a desolate landscape by the sea. She has made dragons on strings for all of them. On her own dragon she places her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, so he can experience how it is to fly as a bird. From the dragons on the strings the children get the idea to let Pippi play a dragon in a cave, who chases Tommy and Annika. Meantime Mr. Nilsson disappears, so they have to go around searching for him.
Two thieves on the run visit Pippi to steal her gold-coins, but when she tells them that Mr. Nilsson is sleeping in the other room, they get frightened and run away, not knowing that Mr. Nilsson is only a small monkey. In the evening Pippi has invited Tommy and Annika to her birthday-party. She takes them to the attic, to see if they can find any ghosts. In the night the thieves come back, but they cannot overpower Pippi, the strongest girl in the world.
A traveling funfair visits the town. Pippi tries many of the amusements. She makes the highest score at the shooting-booth and the trial-of-strength. When no one succeeds to overpower Adolf the Strong Man, Pippi mounts the stage and overturns him. At the snake-charming Pippi grabs one of the pythons during the performance, without being attacked by the snake.
It's two days before the Christmas holidays begin, but Pippi cannot have any holiday because she isn't a pupil. To set this right she decides to go to school for the first time in her life. At school she finds almost everything ridiculous and breaks all rules. When she is out playing in the snow, the two thieves Dunder-Karlsson and Blom seize the opportunity to sneak into Villa Villekulla and steal her bag with gold-coins.
Pippi prepares for Christmas. She bakes a huge number of gingerbread biscuits. In the big tree outside her house she has hung lots of Christmas presents. At Christmas Eve she sits at her window, looking out in the darkness at all the presents hanging in the tree. She feels lonely and thinks with sadness about having no one to give the presents to.
Pippi has invented a new word - spunk - but she doesn't know what it is. Together with Tommy and Annika she tries to figure out what a spunk could be. They build a trap at Villa Villekulla in case it is some kind of a monster. But they don't believe much in this hypothesis, so they go out in town to find out if there is anything else that could be called a spunk.
Pippi repairs the old hot air balloon her father has left at the attic in Villa Villakulla. Meanwhile the two thieves Dunder-Karlsson and Blom steal her bag with gold coins. Miss Prysselius sees Pippi, Tommy and Annika up in the air in the balloon and orders the policemen Kling and Klang to stop them. The policemen start chasing both the balloon and the two thieves, without succeeding to get hold of any of them.
Miss Prysselius shall take care of Tommy and Annika for some days, while their parents are away. They find this unbearable and ask Pippi what to do. Pippi suggests that they run away together in a rowing-boat, get shipwrecked and run ashore on a desert island. The plan is carried out, but when they wake up in the morning on the island, they discover that their boat is missing. Tommy and Annika start longing for their parents, and Pippi for her father.
Pippi introduces Tommy and Annika to her father and the sailors on his sailing-ship Hoppetossa. She will go away with him and the ship the next morning and invites all children in the town to a big farewell-feast at Villa Villekulla. During the feast Pippi and her father perform some trials of strength, to find out who is the strongest. Tommy and Annika are sad about losing Pippi, and she admits feeling the same, but she tries not to think about it.
Pippi is embarking on her father's sailing-ship Hoppetossa. On the quay all children in the town, the policemen Kling and Klang, Miss Prysselius and a brass-band are gathered for a farewell-salutation. Tommy and Annika are sitting at the ground weeping. Pippi tries to console them, but in vain. She becomes uncertain if she really should go away with her father, or change her mind and stay with her friends.