Alice is very bored and sleepy while sitting with her older sister outside, until she sees a White Rabbit looking at his watch and talking to himself. She follows the Rabbit down a very deep rabbit hole and ends up far beneath the ground in a hall with a tiny locked door that leads to a beautiful garden. She eats and drinks things that make her change in size, but she is still unable to get through the door into the garden.
When she becomes huge, she cries in frustration and when she shrinks, she is small enough to swim around in a pool made of her own tears. In the pool, she encounters many creatures, including a Mouse. The creatures and Alice manage to get out of the pool and dry off, but Alice is soon left alone.
Alice finds the Rabbit's house and grows huge after drinking a strange liquid. She terrifies the rabbit and his neighbors and grows very small again after fanning herself. Alice then comes across a Caterpillar smoking a hookah. He irritates Alice and asks her to recite poetry, which she cannot do properly. The Caterpillar informs Alice that eating one side of the mushroom he is sitting on will make her larger but eating the other side will make her smaller. Alice is still trying to become the right size to get into the garden.
She comes to a house in the woods, where a Duchess, her ugly baby, her hostile Cook, and her Cheshire Cat reside. The kitchen is full of pepper and dishes which were hurled in anger. Alice tries to save the baby from this environment, but the baby soon turns into a pig, so she is forced to let it go. The Cheshire Cat appears, grins at Alice, and recommends that she visit the Mad Hatter or the March Hare. The Cheshire Cat vanishes and reappears suddenly. Finally, he disappears gradually so only his grin remains.
Alice goes to the March Hare's house, where she finds a tea-party going on. Alice sits down at the table with the Hare, the Hatter, and the Dormouse. She finds them rude and quickly becomes annoyed with them, so she leaves. She decides to go through a door in a tree and again finds herself in the room with the tiny door leading to the garden. This time she manages to get into the garden.
In the garden she comes across three gardeners painting white roses red. They are afraid of being executed by the Queen of Hearts. Suddenly the Queen and her entourage of playing cards appear. The Queen invites Alice to play croquet, and Alice joins a very strange game. She soon learns that the Duchess is to be executed. The Cheshire Cat's head appears above the ground and causes quite a stir.
The Duchess is brought from prison to settle matters and begins talking with Alice about the moral of everything. The Queen then decides Alice should go meet the Mock Turtle; she is escorted by the Gryphon. Alice learns the Mock Turtle's history and sees a dance called the Lobster Quadrille. Alice again tries to recite poetry with little success.
The Gryphon whisks Alice back to court when they hear that the trial is beginning. The Knave of Hearts is on trial for stealing the Queen's tarts. Alice is excited to be in court and to hear the testimony of the Hatter and the Cook. Alice herself is called to testify after she has inexplicably grown larger again. Alice is impertinent and the King orders her to leave the court, but she refuses. She is outraged by the unfairness of the court's proceedings and provokes the Queen to order her execution. Alice tells the court that they're nothing but a pack of cards, and they rise up and attack her.
At this point, Alice realizes that she has been asleep for a long time in her sister's lap. She tells her sister about the events of her marvelous dream and then goes in to tea. Her sister is captivated by the dream and imagines Alice as a grown woman who will still have a child-like sense of wonder.