In Los Angeles police respond to word of a brawl at a seedy bar. The bartender, bloodied and downing a drink, motions two officers to the back alley, where a man is held at knifepoint. The police arrest the attacker - who turns out to be Fred Johnson, one-armed man. Word of the arrest of this one-armed reprobate makes national newspapers, and working at a trucking firm in Tuscon, Richard Kimble sees a paper with Johnson's picture.
At LAPD headquarters, publicist Nat Harris gets the runaround from Captain Ralph Lee about why the department is publicizing the capture of this one-armed transient, but as he chats with court stenographer Jean Carlisle, he sees Captain Lee talking to another officer - who Jean recognizes as Lt. Philip Gerard of the Stafford, IN police. Harris now connects that the one-armed vagrant is bait for Richard Kimble, but after he leaves the distraught Carlisle hurriedly telephones her longtime friend, Kimble's sister Donna Taft.
Through Donna, Jean learns that Kimble hitched a ride to LA on a truck and was dropped off at a nearby produce market. She drives there as police start combing the area with Kimble's wanted poster. Intercepting Kimble she hurriedly tells him she is the daughter of his late friend Ben Carlisle and wisks him away from the police. Gerard, however, is confident in capturing Kimble since the police have Fred Johnson in custody.
But when Gerard interrogates Johnson, a major discrepency turns up in his story, to where Gerard briefly ponders that Kimble's story is true and that Johnson did indeed kill Helen Kimble, a doubt that has gnawed at Gerard ever since the initial guilty verdict was handed down. Gerard nonetheless focuses again on finding Kimble and tapes a TV news appearence in effect urging Kimble to turn himself in with Fred Johnson in custody.
Kimble and Jean are at her apartment, where Jean mentions the jailing of her father - Ben Carlisle had gone to jail for embezzlement and Richard and Helen Kimble had been the only family in Stafford to offer any kind of sympathy or help to the Carlisles before the deaths of both Ben and his wife; Jean thus has always held a spot in her heart for Richard. When the two of them see the TV newscast with Gerard, Kimble decides to turn himself in, exhausted and demoralized as he is from over four years of running. He has Jean verify that Johnson is indeed in custody first, but when he starts to LAPD headquarters, Jean learns that a seedy bail bondsman, Art Howe, has bailed out Johnson.
Jean again intercepts Kimble and the two of them tail Johnson and Howe to the local zoo, where police have Johnson on bumper-to-bumper tail. Out of hearing range of the police, Howe reveals that his client wants Johnson to jump bail, paying an extra $1,000 for Johnson to do so. Howe, however, feels he can extort even more from his client by using Johnson as bait, but that night at his office, Johnson discovers Howe's client and kills Howe, then makes off with his money. Jean and Kimble, who've been tailing Howe out of sight of the police, sneak into his office and find the body, then find a bail bond receipt identifying Howe's client as Leonard Taft, Kimble's brother-in-law.
Kimble is devastated that his own brother-in-law seems to have bailed out the man who killed his wife, though he believes someone else used Taft's name. The answer nonetheless lies in Stafford, but even though Kimble and Jean arrange to sneak out of LA and eventually rendezvous in Stafford, Kimble is distraught and exhausted enough that, when Gerard stops Kimble to arrest him, the Fugitive makes no effort at escape.
The two men now ride on a train for Stafford, IN, on their way to Kimble's execution, but both men are fated to make one final shocking discovery about Fred Johnson before execution can be carried out.
TO BE CONTINUED