Crazed by the belief that the Communists are planning to conquer the free world by poisoning the water supply with fluoride, Gen. Jack D. Ripper, commanding officer of the U. S. Air Force base at Burpelson, unleashes a B-52 atomic bomb attack on Russia. Ripper prevents the countermanding of his orders through a secret code and makes himself inaccessible by sealing off the base. When President Muffley learns of the unauthorized mission, he summons his council to the War Room in the Pentagon and invites Russian Ambassador de Sadesky. Despite the hysterical advice of Gen. "Buck" Turgidson, who advocates limited nuclear war, the President orders U. S. land forces, under the command of Army Col. "Bat" Guano, to attack Burpelson. Ripper kills himself rather than face capture, but his R.A.F. aide, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, who has been locked in Ripper's office, works out the secret code that is instrumental in recalling the bombers. All appears safe until it is discovered that a plane commanded by a boisterous Texan, Maj. T. J. "King" Kong, did not receive the recall message. At this point, President Muffley learns from de Sadesky that the Russians have developed a "Doomsday Device" which will set off worldwide nuclear explosions if an atomic bomb is dropped anywhere over Russia. Desperate, the President turns to his physicist adviser, the paraplegic ex-Nazi, Dr. Strangelove, who calculates that humanity can survive if a selected few take to underground shelters and remain there for about 100 years. All efforts to halt the lone plane fail, and Kong wildly straddles the bomb as it plummets toward the earth. Consequently, the Doomsday Device is triggered, and atomic explosions are set off all over the world.