Sir Clifford Chatterley returns to his family estate after having been paralyzed in World War I. Desiring an heir, he urges Connie, his beautiful wife, to take a lover, but she demurs. Connie hires a professional nurse for Clifford, and Mrs. Bolton soon establishes complete mastery over her patient and the household. Later, Connie meets the estate's gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors.
Connie takes to spending hours watching Mellors rearing pheasant chicks on the estate's grounds. Eventually, she succumbs to her attraction to the gamekeeper. Their relationship becomes more complex when Connie realizes she may be with child. Mrs. Bolton spreads a helpful rumor around town, but Mellors scorns the idea of providing Clifford with an heir.
As her attachment to Mellors grows, Lady Chatterley's marriage to Sir Clifford begins to fall apart. She finally admits that she would rather stay with the humble gamekeeper than return to her invalid husband. Connie accepts an invitation to take a summer trip with her father and sister to Mandalay. Before she leaves, she tells Mellors life-changing information.
While on holiday, Connie receives devastating news from Mrs. Bolton. Urged to forsake Mellors, she refuses, realizing that she truly loves the gamekeeper. When Connie tells Sir Clifford of her pregnancy, he is ecstatic, believing the father to be one of her old flames. Mellors gives notice at the estate and announces that he will travel to Canada. Connie faces a wrenching decision that will forever alter her life.