MacGyver follows the adventures of the laid-back, extremely resourceful secret agent Angus MacGyver. He prefers non-violent conflict resolution whenever possible and refuses to carry or use a gun. MacGyver works as a problem solver for the Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles. Utilizing his education as a scientist and his experience as an operative in the Department of External Services (DXS), he is able to solve a range of problems usually with the help of his ever-present Swiss Army knife.
MacGyver rescues an American pilot who has crashed on top of a high cliff.
When a science lab studying the ozone layer mysteriously explodes, MacGyver is called in to rescue the scientists that are trapped underground. It's soon discovered that the explosion cracked a tank of sulfuric acid, and MacGyver is in a race against time before the Army uses a missile to seal up the base.
Opening Gambit: MacGyver uses a magnet to retrieve stolen documents, escapes a car about to be flattened, and then traps the thieves in midair.
When MacGyver tries to retrieve a canister filled with a deadly chemical in Burma, he stumbles right into an area known as the Golden Triangle, where the military uses farmers as slaves on the opium fields. MacGyver is mistaken for a narcotics agent and is captured, but convinces the slaves to fight their oppression. MacGyver assists by setting several traps at the slave camp, and when the army returns to suppress the unrest, the real action begins.
MacGyver travels to Budapest to meet with a Russian double agent who is in possession of a watch containing information about other Russian spies. However, before MacGyver can take the watch, the agent is killed and the watch is stolen. Now MacGyver must work with the Gypsies to get it back.
Opening Gambit: MacGyver retrieves a top-secret map, then uses it to escape his pursuers in the desert. MacGyver escapes the desert by using a hot-air balloon conveniently stored at a rendezvous point.
MacGyver attempts to get a reporter out of a Central American country with evidence linking a general to an illegal arms dealer. As MacGyver and Kate (the reporter) reach the border, it is clear escaping to Mexico will be no easy task, as the general and the arms dealer have every imaginable route severely guarded. There is no turning back. MacGyver must figure out how to get across the border, as his life, as well as Kate's, hangs in the balance.
When $60 million worth of stolen diamonds destined for a relief charity end up in the hands of casino owner Jack Catlin, MacGyver must head to the Virgin Islands to try and get them back. With the help of Chris Rhodes, a senator's daughter, MacGyver masterminds a plan to break into Catlin's vault and steal them back.
Opening Gambit: In the Pyrenees Mountains, MacGyver rescues a prisoner, then makes a daring escape with her by raft.
MacGyver comes along on a expedition to Brazil with his friend, entomologist Dr. Alden. They meet with a landowner and recluse, Trumbo, who is initially hostile. However, when they realize that a mile-wide column of army ants is moving through the jungle, they team together to mount a defense. Alden is killed by the ants, which seem unstoppable. MacGyver tries to flood the ants by filling the surrounding troughs with water, but when that plan fails, he uses a flamethrower to burn the oncoming ants. Out of gasoline and quickly running out of time, MacGyver must come up with a plan to dispose of the ants, or Trumbo will lose in one afternoon what he spent his life assembling.
When MacGyver is on his way to a vacation, he takes the wrong way and ends up at a small airstrip where everybody seems to be behaving strangely. Too late, he discovers that the airstrip has been taken hostage, and he has been caught in the middle of a plane-hijacking attempt.
During a trip to visit some friends, an accident starts a fire in an oil well owned by MacGyver's friends. MacGyver and his buddy then go to fetch dynamite in an abandonned mine at great peril to themselves after they decide the dynamite is the only feasible way the fire can be put out. However, when they use it, the fire only becomes more intense. Can MacGyver and his Hellfire friend survive the incredible heat to put out the fire and save the oil buried underneath the well?
A man wants to testify against his mobster brother in Federal Court, and MacGyver has the job of keeping him safe, but the man's mother is dying and he wants to visit her.
Opening Gambit: MacGyver rescues a lady general at a beach house, then nabs her kidnappers using common kitchen equipment.
After blowing away a nuclear facility under the control of an aggressive world leader, MacGyver returns home for some peace and quiet, only to find his boss waiting for him. He advises MacGyver that a contract is out on his life and he needs to skip town for awhile.
When MacGyver comes home with some important documents, he's drugged by enemy agents and told that he will die in six hours if he doesn't retrieve the documents for them. But MacGyver, using an old prisoner trick, escapes. Now the only problem is convincing someone that he's not just another drunk.
Opening Gambit: Posing as a corpse, MacGyver escapes Berlin by coffin-turned-jet-ski.
MacGyver is trapped in a mansion with Pete, a code expert, and a government agent who may or may not be on their side. However, an old nemesis has electronically booby-trapped the entire mansion to make sure they can't go anywhere.
An old girlfriend of MacGyver's contacts him for help after she discovers evidence of uranium thefts from a nuclear processing plant where she works.
A mysterious person, who calls himself "Viking", has just bombed a cruise ship. He demands six million dollars or another bomb will go off within hours. So MacGyver, with an old friend from Vietnam, Charlie Robinson, is sent to disarm it. But when they get there, they find out there's more then one bomb on the ship.
After a daring escape from East Germany where he gets rescued, and in the process saves a fellow operative with a quick mechanical fix, MacGyver thinks that he deserves some peaceful vacation time. But Pete lures him into baby-sitting a Russian defector who can identify KGB agents.
MacGyver is on his way out of Bulgaria with a secret microfilm, when he meets Penny Parker, a beautiful, talkative American, who is on the run from her lover, a man named Stephan Frolov. She stashes some jewels on MacGyver, thus making him a suspect, and now MacGyver and Penny must flee Bulgaria together.
In Afghanistan, wounded and hunted by the Soviets, MacGyver is given refuge by an Afghan woman and her son. But they are themselves at the mercy of an Afghan thug, who will kill MacGyver if he finds him at his woman.
A 15-year-old genius accidentally hacks into a defective missile guidance system and attracts the attention of both the FBI and some black marketeers, who think that she may fix it for them. It's up to MacGyver to save her from being kidnapped by either side.
At the beginning of the episode, MacGyver literally has to jump onto a moving train that he missed earlier to return top-secret files and documents to the U.S. Government. Soon after, a local tribe stops the train. They take all passengers hostage until the men responsible for the death of the tribal leader's son is found among the passengers.
When a mother superior at a religious mission in North Africa asks MacGyver to help a young woman with something, he is glad to help. However, when he finds out the young woman wants him to break her brother out of jail, he may have taken on more than he expected.
Pete Thornton investigates the supposed death of an old friend, a prominent Russian dissident, and finds he must get his friend's daughter Maria out of the country before the secret police arrest her for an alleged conspiracy. However, while in Russia, Pete bumps into MacGyver, who followed him from the United States. While disappointed MacGyver followed him, Pete gladly welcomes MacGyver into his plans when the secret police arrive to take Maria into custody. Following a high speed boat chase to escape the police, Pete and MacGyver find out from Maria that her father is not dead, he is being held in a maximum security ward at a state mental institution. To get into the mental hospital, MacGyver plays the part of a mad patient and Pete plays the part of a doctor who has been assigned to him. With the help of the other patients, MacGyver is able to escape into Ward Zero, where Pete's friend is held. MacGyver breaks him out and hides him with the other patients
Posing as a watchmaker who manufactures bomb timers, MacGyver manages to catch a master killer—Piedra—before he attempts an assassination on a high-profile target. However, Piedra isn't about to be stopped for long.