Mowgli is found in a basket as a baby in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagheera, the black panther who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to an Indian Wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs and Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted with jungle life. Mowgli is shown ten years later, visiting the wolves and getting his face licked eagerly when he arrives. That night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan, a man-eating bengal tiger has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the "man village" to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.
They leave that very night, but Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle and after he and Bagheera meet Yogi Bear and his friends after they stop Kaa the python from eating the boy and decide to join them and take Mowgli back to the man village, he loses Bagheera. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the Indian elephant patrol led by Hathi, and yogi and the gang come along to talk to him. Bagheera finds Mowgli and they argue; Mowgli runs away from Bagheera. Yogi and his friends followed him just to protect him. Mowgli, Yogi and the others soon meets Baloo (who happens to be Yogi's cousin), who shows Mowgli, Yogi and the others the fun of having a care-free life and promises not to take Mowgli to the man village.
Mowgli now wants to stay in the jungle more than ever. Before long, Mowgli is caught by a gang of monkeys and taken to their leader, King Louie the orangutan (who is Magilla Gorilla's cousin), who makes a deal with Mowgli that if he tells him the secret of making fire like a human, then he will make it so he can stay in the jungle. However, since he was not raised by humans, Mowgli doesn't know how to make fire. Mowgli is rescued from King Louie by Bagheera, Baloo and Yogi and the others.
Later that night Bagheera with Yogi and the gang discuss to Baloo that Mowgli has to go back to the man village but Baloo doesn't listen until he learns that Mowgli will meet Shere Khan (who is Snagglepuss' rival) so Baloo sadly agrees then tries to explain to Mowgli where they were going, but soon Mowgli runs away from them after Baloo realizes the man village is best for the boy and breaks his promise.
Soon Baloo, Bagheera, Yogi and the gang split up to find Mowgli. Baloo, Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo Bear and Top Cat search for him on their own. Bagheera (along with Wally Gator, Peter Potamus, Squiddly Diddly and Magilla Gorilla) round up the help of Hathi and the elephants to form a search party to find the boy and Shere Khan listens to the conversation and discovers that Mowgli is lost in the jungle. At first Hathi refuses but his wife Winifred gets furious breaks out of ranks and persuades him to help find the boy with the threat of taking over command, but Hathi doesn't listen, but when Hathi Jr. convinces him to help he then agrees to help bluffing that he had a plan in mind all the time and after organizing his elephants they begin their search then shortly after Shere Khan now begins his search for Mowgli.
Kaa, the hungry Indian Python once again hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep (along with Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Snagglepuss), and tries once again to eat him, but thanks to the intervention of Shere Khan, Mowgli (along with Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss) escapes.
They encounter a group of solemn vultures, who closely resemble The Beatles, and they say they'll be his friend. The vultures argue and continually sidetrack Mowgli with their pointless arguments. Shere Khan appears shortly after and challenges Mowgli to a fight, but when Baloo, and Yogi Bear and the rest of the gang rush to the rescue, they manage to get rid of the ruthless tiger. Bagheera, Baloo, Yogi and the others take him to the edge of a man-village, but Mowgli is still hesitant to go in. His mind soon changes when a young girl from the village comes down by the riverside to fetch water.
After noticing the boy, she "accidentally" drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo, Bagheera, and Yogi Bear and the gang decide to head home. Yogi and the gang will meet Baloo, Bagheera and Mowgli again but that's another story.
- Baloo is revealed to be Yogi Bear's cousin.
- King Louie is revealed to be Magilla's cousin.
- This film has revealed that Shere Khan is Snagglepuss' rival.
- This is the first appearance of Squiddly Diddly.
- The TV show Laff-A-Lympics was on ABC Saturday mornings at the time when The Jungle Book was re-released in theaters in 1978.