In the beginning of the story Sanger Rainsford, world famous hunter, is on a hunting expedition with a close friend. They are on a boat traveling in the Caribbean. Rainsford engages his companion in a conversation about the sport of hunting. This is a very revealing conversation because Rainsford discusses his disregard for the feelings of the animals he hunts.
Shortly after the discussion, Rainsford falls overboard and ends up swimming to safety on the shore of an unknown island and passes out. He eventually wakes up and hears what sounds like a hunt going on in the distance. He begins to investigate the sounds and finds a trail of footsteps that leads up to a dark and looming mansion. The front door opens and Ivan, a giant Kassock (Russian soldier), stand there, threatening Rainsford with a gun. General Zarroff comes downstairs and calls off Ivan.
After a lot of clever discussion, Rainsford learns that General Zarroff has intentionally brought Rainsford to the Island in order to force him to play a game—Zarroff, bored with animal prey and finding it too easy to hunt, want to hunt Rainsford himself, whom he views as a formidable opponent. The deal is that if Rainsford can survive three days of the hunt, then he will be set free. Rainsford not only survives, but in the end he kills both Ivan and Zarroff. Rainsford finishes out his last night on the island sleeping comfortable in the bed of the late General Zarroff.