Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox, and their four children all live in a hole under a giant tree on a hill. Every night, Mr. Fox asks his wife what she would like for dinner. Depending on her answer, Mr. Fox goes to one of the three surrounding farms to steal their supper. Mr. Boggis raises chickens and is extremely fat. Mr. Bunce raises ducks and geese, and is extremely short. Mr. Bean is very thin, and he grows apples and raises turkeys.
The farmers are all furious about their disappearing livestock. Although all three wait up every night for Mr. Fox with shotguns, they have never managed to catch him. Mr. Fox has an extremely sensitive nose and always approaches downwind so he can smell where the farmers are hiding.
Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce, and Mr. Bean decide to team up to kill Mr. Fox. They wait outside his hole with their guns where Mr. Fox can’t smell them. Mr. Fox comes out cautiously, and they shoot as he is diving back into his hole. Mr. Fox is unharmed, except for a missing tail.
The men decide to dig the Fox family out of their hole. Fortunately, foxes dig much faster then men, and they burrow farther into the ground. Not to be defeated so easily, the men come back with their tractors. They have all their workers surround the hill so the foxes cannot burrow through, and they proceed to dig and dig until the hill is a crater. Many townspeople gather around to laugh at the farmers.
The farmers are tired and decide to starve the foxes out of their hole.
They set up camp and wait. After several days, the Fox family is hungry and thirsty. Mrs. Fox is too weak to dig anymore. Mr. Fox comes up with a daring plan to save his family. He and the children dig a tunnel to Mr. Boggis’ chicken coup, where they take several chickens. Digging to Mr. Bunce’s farm, they run into Badger, who tells them that all the digging animals on the hill are also trapped and hungry. Mr. Fox invites him and all the other animals to a great feast.
Badger helps Mr. Fox and his children tunnel to Mr. Bunce’s storehouse for more meat and vegetables (for the herbivores), and then to Mr. Bean’s for alcoholic cider. They are almost caught when a woman comes into the cellar for more cider to send to the farmers’ camp.
Finally, the foxes and Badger get back to Mr. Fox’s hole, where Mrs. Fox has prepared a giant feast. The attending animals dug a huge underground dining room to accommodate everyone. Mr. Fox decides that the animals have all they need right there underground, and invites all the digging animals to live underground with his family forever. The farmers are probably still waiting.