In the early morning, a yellow taxi pulls up at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York City and Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) emerges. She eats a pastry and drinks coffee while standing outside the shop window, then strolls home. At her apartment building, she fends off her date Sid Arbuck (Claude Stroud) from the disastrous night before, who has been waiting in his car all night. The next morning, she is awakened by new tenant Paul Varjak (George Peppard) ringing the doorbell. The pair chat as she dresses to leave for her weekly visit to Sally Tomato (Alan Reed), a mobster incarcerated at Sing Sing prison. She is paid to pass on coded messages for his drug ring but plays dumb regarding her visits.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.
As she is leaving for Sing Sing, Holly is introduced to Paul’s “decorator”, wealthy older woman Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal), who Paul nicknames “2E”. That night, Holly goes out onto the building’s fire escape to elude an overly eager date. She peeks into Paul’s apartment and sees 2E leaving money and kissing Paul goodbye. After 2E leaves, Holly enters Paul’s apartment and learns that he is a writer who has not had anything published in five years since writing a book of vignettes titled Nine Lives. Holly, in turn, explains that she is trying to save money in order to support her brother, Fred, when he gets out of the Army. The pair fall asleep, but are awoken when Holly has a nightmare about Fred and leaves the apartment. She later buys Paul a new typewriter ribbon to apologize and invites him to a party at her apartment. At the party, Paul meets her Hollywood agent, O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam), who describes Holly’s transformation from country girl into Manhattan socialite. He is also introduced to José da Silva Pereira (José Luis de Vilallonga), a rich Brazilian, and Rusty Trawler (Stanley Adams), a rich American.
In the days that follow, Paul and Holly become closer. One day, 2E enters Paul’s apartment, worried that she is being followed. Paul tells her that he will investigate and eventually confronts the man, who introduces himself as “Doc” Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), Holly’s husband. Doc explains that Holly’s real name is Lula Mae Barnes, whom he married when she was 14, and that he would like to take her back to Texas. After Paul reunites Holly and Doc, she tells Paul the marriage was annulled and asks him to accompany her and Doc to the bus station. There, she tells Doc she is not returning. He tells her that if she does not return, he will not support Fred on his imminent return from the Army. She still refuses, and tells him she plans for Fred to live with her in New York. Doc leaves brokenhearted.
After drinking at a club, Paul and Holly return to her apartment, where she drunkenly tells him that she plans to marry Rusty Trawler for his money. A few days later, Paul learns that one of his short stories has been accepted for publication. On the way to tell Holly, he sees the newspaper at her door, its headline stating that Trawler has married someone else. Holly and Paul agree to spend the day together, taking turns doing things that each has never done before. At Tiffany’s, Paul has the ring from Doc Golightly’s box of Cracker Jack engraved as a present for Holly. After spending the night together, he awakens to find that she has returned to her apartment. Soon afterwards, Paul ends his relationship with 2E.
Holly schemes to marry José for his money, which angers Paul who has firmly decided on his love for her. After Holly and José return to her apartment to find a telegram notifying her of Fred’s death, she trashes her apartment in grief, her behavior disturbing José. Months later, Paul has moved out of the building. He is invited to dinner by Holly, who is leaving the next morning for Brazil. However, they are soon arrested by police in connection with Sally’s drug ring and taken to the 19th precinct. Yunioshi insinuated that they are smoking narcotics when they were arrested. Holly spends the night in jail.
The next morning, Holly is released on bail with help from O.J. and finds Paul waiting in a taxi for her outside. He has her cat and a letter from José explaining he must end their relationship due to her arrest. Holly insists she will go to Brazil anyway and releases the cat from the taxi into the rain. Paul confronts Holly about her behavior and leaves the cab, tossing the ring he had engraved for her into her lap and telling her to examine her life. She quickly runs after him and together they find the cat, look into each other’s eyes and embrace.