After finding the body of 003 and a microchip Bond (Roger Moore) escapes from Russian troops in an iceberg shaped submarine.
On his return to England the chip is examined and looks to have been made by Zorin Industries.
Bond, along with his superiors, go to Ascot Racecourse with the aim of paying particular attention to Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), the founder and CEO of Zorin Industries. They also meet Sir Godfrey Tibbet (Patrick Macnee), a horse trainer who is actually an MI6 agent. When Zorin’s horse unexpectedly wins a race and then loses control Tibbett suspects drugs although when tested none show up.
In Paris at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower Bond meets Achille Aubergine (Jean Rougerie), a French private detective who is a contact of Tibbett’s. While discussing the horse’s win Achille is killed by May Day (Grace Jones), Zorin’s bodyguard, but not before she tells Bond of an annual horse sale taking place later in the month. Bond chases after May Day but loses her when she is picked up by Zorin in a boat on the Seine.
Bond, posing as James St. John Smythe, a man who has just inherited a stable of horses, and Tibbett as his valet, travel to Chantilly in France. They meet Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau), Zorin’s head of security, at a party along with an American woman called Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts). Using some special sunglasses Bond locates Zorin’s secret laboratory and he and Tibbett proceed to break in unearthing Zorin’s secret; implanting into horses remote controlled microchips which can release adrenalin triggered from a transmitter in the jockey’s whip. Bond evades Scarpine but seduces May Day much to Zorin’s amusement.
Bond, as St. John Smythe, is in a meeting with Zorin with a view to selecting a stud horse. However, using technology Zorin secretly discovers Bonds real identity and offers him an invitation to race him in a steeplechase but, unbeknown to Bond, offers him a bad tempered horse. Zorin activates the microchip as Bond goes past him and the horse goes wild. He manages to escape from the track and on seeing his limousine gets in only to find that May Day is driving having killed Tibbett. She then tries to kill Bond but is unsuccessful.
It seems that Zorin is employed by the KGB receiving a visit from General Gogol and other agents informing him that they are not happy with the attention he is getting. Zorin in return informs them that he no longer wishes to be associated with them and when one of the agents starts to rebuke Zorin May Day shows her strength. When Gogol warns Zorin he is encouraged to leave by Zorin’s armed men.
Later, Zorin is hosting a meeting of a group of investors in an airship over San Francisco telling them of his scheme to sabotage and eradicate Silicon Valley thus gaining the monopoly on the microchip market. His demands are very high and one man who drops out is despatched landing in San Francisco Bay.
At a meeting with his CIA contact, Bond is told that Zorin is a psychopath, damaged by Nazi drug experimentation during the war.
Taking on the guise of a reporter from the London Financial Times he does more investigating talking to a local crab fisherman who tells him that the area around one of Zorin’s oil pumping stations used to rich with crabs but not now. He then learns from the Mayor that Zorin is polluting the water while testing the oil lines for leaks.
While spying on the oil rig, Bond finds Pola Ivanova, a KGB agent, and her partner recording Zorin’s conversations and attempting to blow the rig up. He again meets Stacey who tells him that her grandfather originally owned the oil rig until Zorin took it over. They go to City Hall and try and steal documents that will show what Zorin is planning to do but are initially thwarted as Zorin arrives. He makes the official call the police while he holds Bond and Stacey captive then shoots him with Bonds gun, sets the building alight and leaves. Bond and Stacey escape from the police by commandeering a fire engine which instigates a car chase. As they go towards the Third Street Drawbridge the police captain orders the bridge to be raised but Bond and Stacey make it across just in time. The police cars, however, do not.
When Bond and Stacey sneak into Zorin’s mine near Silicon Valley the following day they uncover a plot to set off explosives under the lakes on the Hayward and San Andreas Fault thus flooding the valley. Also a large bomb is placed so as to potentially cause a catastrophic double earthquake.
Realising that Zorin has left her, May Day decides to help Bond and they, along with Stacey, only just manage to escape as Zorin and Scarpine flood the mines. The miners aren’t so lucky. With the help of May Day, Bond manages to move the bomb onto a handcar. They push it out of the mine but, because the car has a faulty brake lever, May Day stays on it and is killed as the bomb explodes safely way from the lock.
Zorin escapes in his airship with Scarpine and Mortner taking Stacey with him. As the airship ascends Bond grabs the mooring rope. Although Zorin tries to kill Bond by flying low enough to drag him into the Golden Gate Bridge, Bond instead successfully moors the airship to the bridge framework, stopping it in its tracks.
As Bond is making his way to the airship Stacey attacks Zorin. In the resulting melee Scarpine and Mortner are knocked out. Stacey races to the bridge to help Bond followed by Zorin who has an axe. In the fight that follows Zorin plunges to his death off the bridge. An angry Mortner has regained consciousness and comes after Bond with a bundle of dynamite but quickly Bond slashes the mooring rope. Mortner drops the dynamite which falls into the cabin and within seconds it explodes destroying the airship and killing Mortner and Scarpine.
Later, Q, using his special surveillance equipment finds Bond in the shower with Stacey.