In France, Remy, a rat with a highly developed sense of taste and smell, feels alienated from his fellow rats, especially his simple-minded brother Emile. While the others forage for garbage, Remy favors only the subtlest ingredients of leftover foodstuffs. One day, after Remy sniffs out rat poison in a potential meal, his father, Django, the colony leader, names him their official poison checker. Angry that they steal food rather than foraging off the land, Remy ignores Django’s continued warnings against consorting with humans, and slips from the safety of their home in a farmhouse rooftop into the kitchen. There, Remy spots a television biography about famed Parisian chef Auguste Gusteau, whose philosophy, that anyone can cook, inspires the rat, who is further inflamed by his first taste of the farm’s fresh fruits and vegetables. Walking on his hind legs to keep his front paws clean, he seeks out new flavors in the farmlands, with Emile as a reluctant accomplice. Exulting at the smoky taste of a mushroom barbequed over the chimney top, Remy determines to steal saffron from the kitchen, where the elderly farm woman is sleeping in front of the television set. Inside, Emile is horrified to learn that Remy can read, while Remy grows despondent upon hearing on the television that Gusteau has died of a broken heart after earning a scathing review from food critic Anton Ego. Just then, the old woman awakens and, spotting Remy, pulls out a rifle and shoots wildly. In the ensuing chase, the old woman shoots upward at Emile, who is trapped on the chandelier, causing the ceiling slowly to crumble, revealing the colony of rats inside. When Django calls for a mass evacuation, Remy returns to the kitchen for Gusteau’s cookbook, entitled Anyone Can Cook . Barely escaping out the window, Remy cannot catch up with the colony members, who float into the sewer system on makeshift boats. Almost swept away by a waterfall, Remy stays afloat on the cookbook. In the sewer, he waits for days in vain for signs of his brethren. Starving, he leafs through the cookbook and imagines that an illustration of Gusteau is talking to him. Gusteau instructs Remy to focus on the future rather than the past, so Remy scampers up the pipes to a room in which a party is being held. Just as he is about to eat some bread, however, Gusteau scolds him for robbery, promising that food will always come to those who love to cook. Remy moves on, landing on a rooftop from which he sees the stunning, glittering city of Paris, and realizes he is just blocks from Gusteau’s restaurant. Peeking in the window above Gusteau’s kitchen, Remy witnesses the room’s complicated inner workings. Led by the diminutive and scheming Chef Skinner, the other cooks, including Colette, work in perfect choreography. There as well is bumbling Alfredo Linguini, whose late mother Renata was Gusteau’s girlfriend, and who now hopes to obtain a job. Skinner reluctantly allows Linguini to be hired as a garbage boy. Despite Gusteau’s declaration to Remy that Linguini is just as important as anyone in the kitchen, Remy scoffs, scandalized to see the garbage boy spilling the soup and then attempting to correct his mistake by throwing spices into it willy-nilly. Distraught, Remy falls through a crack in the window into the kitchen, where he is almost scalded by the broiler, flattened by the cart wheels and trampled by feet. Finally finding his way to an open window, Remy is drawn back to the kitchen floor by the scent of the wretched soup, which he feels compelled to repair in a flurry of creative delight. Just then, Skinner sees Linguini near the soup and excoriates him for meddling with the food. When the waiter mistakenly serves the soup to a patron, Skinner and Linguini are terrified of the reaction, but the diner—a critic—adores the taste. Tasting the expert concoction, Skinner suspects Linguini of a ruse, and as punishment, promotes him to a cook under Colette’s tutelage, demanding that Linguini make the soup while Skinner watches. When Skinner spots Remy nearby, Linguini traps the rat in a glass jar and is about to dump him in the Seine when he notes the rat’s terrified face, and responds by admitting he is desperate to keep this job, his latest in a history of failed employment. Slowly realizing that Remy understands him and is the real cook, although he cannot translate the rat’s squeaking, Linguini frees Remy, asking only that he help recreate the soup, and although Remy at first races off, he soon returns. In the morning, while the restaurant employees read that the critic has declared Remy’s soup a revelation, Remy attempts to direct Linguini by nipping at his skin under his uniform, which results in Linguini performing acrobatic leaps and then retreating in pain into the pantry closet, where he insists they find another method of communication. Hearing Linguini, Skinner opens the door and spots Remy, and when he lunges for the rat, Remy slips into Linguini’s translucent paper toque. Returning to the kitchen, Linguini is about to walk into a waiter, but Remy pulls his hair, inadvertently discovering that he can control Linguini’s movements by tugging various tufts. That night, they practice at home, with Remy pulling at his hair while a blindfolded Linguini makes dinner. After many spills and close calls with the knife, they form an impressive team, each unable to succeed without the other. The next day, the soup impresses Skinner. Linguini attempts to be suave with Colette, who rebuffs him, pointing out that she must be the toughest in the kitchen in order to survive in a male-dominated world. Meanwhile, Skinner is secretly developing a line of dreadful fast foods featuring Gusteau’s name. In his office, he finally reads the letter from Renata, which reveals that Linguini is Gusteau’s son and heir to the restaurant. Suspicious of Linguini, Skinner instructs his lawyer to investigate, and the lawyer steals a hair from Gusteau’s old toque to compare against Linguini’s in a DNA test. Over time, Colette softens toward Linguini, tutoring him and, inadvertently, Remy in the fine arts of food preparation. One day, with the customers clamoring for new dishes, Skinner decides to discredit Linguini by assigning him Gusteau’s failed recipe for sweetbreads, which includes veal stomach, cuttlefish tentacles and anchovy licorice sauce. Inspired, Remy improvises, manipulating Linguini hyperactively all over the kitchen to gather ingredients. At Colette’s insistence that they must follow the recipe, Remy forces Linguini to push Colette aside. The customers rave about Linguini’s dish, infuriating both Colette and Skinner. Under the bright kitchen lights, Skinner thinks he spots Remy’s silhouette in Linguini’s toque, and hoping to learn his secrets, invites Linguini into his office. Skinner plies the teetotaler with wine, but despite Linguini’s drunkenness, he reveals nothing. Meanwhile, Remy slips outside, only to find Emile in the alley. After a joyful reunion, Remy wants to share his haute cuisine with his brother, and although Gusteau’s image tries to talk him out of stealing food, Remy refuses to listen. Afterward, Emile insists that Remy return with him to the colony, where Django throws a party to welcome him. When Remy explains that he is not staying, however, Django angrily accuses him of talking like a human, and shows his son the rows of dead rats adorning the window of a famed rat-trap shop. “You can’t change nature,” Django declares, to which Remy replies, “Change is nature.” In the morning, Remy enters the kitchen full of brio, but finds Linguini passed out. Remy manipulates him around the kitchen with sunglasses on to hide the fact that he is asleep, and at the boy’s silence, Colette assumes he is too arrogant to talk to her. Declaring she was a fool to like him, she slaps him, at which he finally wakes and runs after her. He wants to tell her the truth, but Remy pulls his hair so that instead he falls on her with a passionate kiss. At his home, Ego has learned about Gusteau’s new popularity and, incensed that anyone would frequent the place after he has condemned it, determines to critique it again. At the same time, the lawyer informs Skinner that Linguini is Gusteau’s rightful heir, and mentions that his toque contained rodent hair. One day soon after, Remy falls into the Paris streets and is chased by repulsed humans, reminding him how the human population views him. Back at the restaurant, Emile waits with his rat buddies, expecting to be fed. Remy reluctantly sneaks into the pantry and accidentally uncovers Gusteau’s will, which names Linguini as his son. He takes the will, but Skinner sees him, and in the ensuing chase, Remy almost loses the papers but finally outwits Skinner. Soon, the entire crew is celebrating Skinner’s ouster as they destroy his fast food. Linguini then rents a lovely apartment with a cozy nook for Remy. As Linguini gains more press, the attention goes to his head, and when Linguini cites Colette as his only inspiration, a wounded Remy fights with the boy, who drops him outside. There, Skinner sees and, finally discerning the truth, reports a rat infestation at Gusteau’s to the health inspector. That night, Remy vengefully invites the colony for a snack after closing time. Meanwhile, Linguini searches sorrowfully for Remy, and finding him in the kitchen, he approaches Remy in friendship, unaware that hundreds of rats are hiding. Just then, Emile falls, exposing the rats. Linguini throws them all out, furious, while Remy is heartbroken. The next night, Emile sees Skinner ensnare Remy in a steel trap and lock him in a car trunk. While Ego intimidates the crew, Skinner enters in disguise and watches gleefully. In the cage, Remy has given up, but Gusteau’s image convinces him he has never known his real self. Suddenly, Django and Emile appear and free him from the trap, and Remy hugs them, but announces he is a cook and must return to the restaurant. There, Linguini, who is failing spectacularly, defends Remy and admits that the rat is the real chef. The whole kitchen departs in disgust, including Colette, crying. Alone, Linguini is about to give up when Colette returns, having spotted Gusteau’s cookbook in a store window, which has convinced her of his philosophy. Django enters, too, with the colony, and tells Remy that he is willing to help. Although the health inspector arrives just then, the rats lock him in the pantry. Remy organizes the rats into teams and orchestrates their kitchen work, while Linguini waits tables on rollerskates. Despite Colette’s skepticism, Remy decides to cook ratatouille for Ego, and teaches her a particularly delicate and delicious version. When they present it to Ego, he is immediately transported to his childhood, during which his mother comforted him with the home-cooked dish. Recalling finally his great love of food, Ego waits until the restaurant empties to meet the chef. Ego listens carefully, in silence, to Linguini’s introduction of Remy, and watches the rat cook. The next day, Ego's review comes out, stating that despite the overall irrelevance of critics, their importance lies in championing someone new or unusual. “The genius at Gusteau’s is the finest chef in France,” he writes. However, the restaurant is soon closed by the health inspector, ruining Ego’s credibility. Some time later, at La Ratatouille, the new restaurant at which Remy is chef, Colette is sous chef and Linguini is the waiter, and Ego happily dines nightly. Outside, the rats dine at their own tables in the garden while the line of humans stretches down the block.