In Moscow, during the late 19th century, Anna Arkadyevna Karénina, the wife of distinguished statesman Alexei Alexandrovitch Karenin, arrives from St. Petersburg by train. Stiva, Anna's brother, greets Anna at the train station, where he introduces her to his friend, Count Vronsky, a young officer of the guards. Although he is aware that Anna is married and has a child, Vronsky immediately falls in love with her. Before leaving the station, Anna and Stiva witness the accidental death of a railroad inspector when he is swept underneath the wheels of a moving train, a tragedy that Anna calls "an evil omen." Soon after arriving at her brother's house, Anna makes peace between Stiva and his wife Dolly, who was angry with him for being a philanderer. Then, Kitty, Dolly's sister, confides in Anna that she is secretly in love with Vronsky and that she has become disenchanted with her sweetheart, Konstantin Dimetrievitch Levin. Later, at a ball, Kitty despairs when Levin proposes to her and she is asked to dance the mazurka by undesireable men. When Anna leaves Moscow for St. Petersburg, she soon discovers that the smitten Vronsky has followed her. Despite her attempts to dissuade him from making entreaties for her affections, Vronsky persists in courting Anna and disembarks with her in St. Petersburg. Anna is met at the St. Petersburg train station by Karenin, and because Vronsky is at her side, she is forced to introduce him to her husband. Anna adores her young son Sergei and asks about his well-being. Later, when Vronsky visits Anna and she tells him that she loves him, Lidia, a friend of Karenin, informs Karenin of his wife's affair. Karenin, who is mostly concerned about the effect that the publicity of Anna's affair will have on his career and his son, angrily accuses Anna of destroying their family. In response, Anna accuses Karenin of being concerned only with appearances and not loving her. News of Anna's affair soon reaches Vronsky's superior in command, who urges him to end the affair at once or face dismissal from the army. When Vronsky returns to Anna's, he forces her to choose between him and Karenin, but she finds the decision too difficult to make. Later, at a horse race in which Karenin's horse is racing against Vronsky's horse, Vronsky takes a fall and Karenin prevents Anna from rushing to his side. When they return home, Anna tells Karenin that she loves Vronsky. Karenin then informs Anna that he will not give her a divorce and orders her to remain his wife or face banishment and humiliation. Following Kitty's marriage to Levin, Anna and Vronsky elope to Venice, although Anna says that they will be "punished for being so happy." Meanwhile, back in St. Petersburg, Karenin tells Sergei that his mother is dead. When Vronsky and Anna return to Russia, Vronsky learns that his regiment is preparing to fight in the Serbo-Turkish war, and he eagerly rejoins the regiment. Karenin denies Anna's request to visit Sergei on his birthday, but she goes anyway. When Karenin finds Anna in the house, he orders her to leave. Anna returns to St. Petersburg only to learn that Vronsky has left to fight in the war. Anna desperately tries to see Vronsky one last time before he goes into battle and follows him to Moscow. In Moscow, Anna visits Dolly, Kitty, Levin and their new baby. Afterward, Anna rushes to the train station to see Vronsky off, but as she approaches his car, she realizes he is bidding farewell to his mother and a young woman whom she does not know. Despondent, Anna ends her life by throwing herself under a moving train.