Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is an agent and "point man" of an Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team, an unofficial branch of the CIA, led by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight). In Russia, the team is working on mission: a disguised Hunt is interrogating a Russian agent who has been tricked by the team into thinking he murdered fellow IMF agent Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart), Phelps' wife. Claire has been given a drug to make her appear dead but the team doesn't have much longer before Claire will be beyond reviving. The Russian gives up a name which is verified, and he is drugged and taken away. Claire is revived, asking if the ruse was successful; Ethan assures her it was.While in flight, Jim is passed a tape containing a covert mission for his team. The team assembles in Prague to prevent an Eastern European diplomat, Golitsyn, from stealing a Non-official cover (NOC) list - a comprehensive list of all covert agents in Eastern Europe.The mission goes inextricably wrong: the team obtains video evidence of Golitsyn stealing the NOC list and exiting the building. Over their radio frequency, Ethan hears his teammate, Jack, being killed by a spike while he controls the elevator Golitsyn uses to escape. Hannah Williams and Claire are killed near the Charles Bridge when the team's getaway car explodes while they await the team. Jim himself is killed by an unseen assassin that Jim had reported was following him on the Charles Bridge -- Ethan hears the shots. As she pursues Golitsyn, Sarah finds him being stabbed to death; the assassin grabs her and kills her in the same fashion. Ethan finds them both and discovers the disc Golitsyn had used is gone.Fleeing the scene, Hunt meets with Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny), the CIA-based director of the IMF, at a café. Hunt, very much in shock, is disturbed to learn from Kittridge that a mole has infiltrated the IMF with a cover known only as "job 3:14" and that the Prague operation was meant to ferret out the mole by allowing him to acquire the NOC list and attempt to sell it to Max, an illegal arms dealer known for corrupting IMF agents. The NOC list in Prague was fake, the real list being held in CIA headquarters in Virginia. With Hunt the sole survivor, the CIA believes he is the mole. Realizing he'll be taken into custody before he can clear his name, Hunt mounts a daring escape from the café using exploding "red light/green light" chewing gum, fleeing into Prague's Old Town Square.Ethan returns to the IMF safe house, where he uses the internet to find Job. Looking over the screen of his laptop, he sees a Bible on a bookshelf above the screen and deduces that "job 3:14" actually means the Book of Job, chapter 3, verse 14. Ethan begins to email as many web entities with the name Job 3:14 as he can before falling asleep. Suddenly, he stops an intruder and discovers it's Claire, still alive having survived the mission. He tells her how he's been disavowed by the Agency and that he needs to contact Max. Ethan begins correspondence with "Max", explaining that the NOC list was a fake and offering to deliver the real NOC list in exchange for the identity of the mole.Ethan meets with Max, finding that she's actually a woman. Ethan tells her that the list likely has a tracking device in it and activating it will allow the IMF to find them. Ethan's hunch is correct and they flee Max' apartment, narrowly escaping Kittridge. Ethan offers to retrieve the actual list for Max for a cash advance and Max agrees to the deal. Ethan uses Max' money to assemble a team of blacklisted or disavowed intelligence agents, including computer expert Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno).Disguised as a team of firefighters, they infiltrate the heavily fortified headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Virginia and successfully steal a copy of the full NOC list before escaping to a safe house in London. Once there, Hunt accidentally finds out that the Bible belongs to the hotel, where Phelps stayed for a "recruitment", and this arouses Hunt's suspicion. After discovering that his uncle and mother have been falsely arrested for drug trafficking in an attempt to lure him out, Hunt is infuriated, and he contacts Kittridge, who offers to drop the false charges the moment Hunt surrenders to authorities. Hunt hangs up, after allowing Kittridge to trace him to the London area, turns around and walks right into Jim Phelps.Phelps, presumed dead in the Prague operation, reveals that Kittridge is the mole and is tying up loose ends by trying to apprehend Hunt. Hunt reflects on this, while in reality piecing together the clues he discovered leading up to his operation and realizes that Phelps is Job himself. Hunt pretends to accept the story while being uncertain about Claire's place in the conspiracy.The next day, Max and Ethan arrange to meet aboard the high-speed TGV train en route to Paris, with Claire and Luther aboard to provide backup. Kittridge is also aboard, having recently arrived in London and received tickets for the TGV and a video watch from Hunt. In the train, Ethan delivers the supposed NOC list to Max, who directs him to the luggage compartment to find his money, and Job. Max then attempts to transmit the NOC list to a server, an operation hindered by Luther, who activates a jamming device to prevent the upload. Claire, observing Kittridge's presence aboard the train, vacates her seat and meets with Phelps in the luggage car, confirming her part in the conspiracy. A silent "Jim" slowly peels away his mask, revealing himself as Ethan. Suddenly, the real Phelps appears, armed and demanding the NOC list money. Ethan surrenders it before pulling out a pair of glasses. He slides them over his eyes, activating the camera inside and transmitting Phelps's image to Kittridge, proving beyond doubt that Phelps is still alive.Phelps, now revealed as the traitor, shoots Claire in anger when she speaks against killing Ethan. He then subdues Ethan before escaping to the roof of the train, where Krieger, also a traitor, waits to extract him with a helicopter. Ethan recovers and follows Phelps, impeding his efforts to escape and tethering Krieger's helicopter to the train as it heads into the Channel Tunnel. The fight continues, with the helicopter now following the train inside the tunnel. The two fight atop the wind-swept train before Phelps disconnects the helicopter from the train and attempts to escape. Ethan follows, leaping onto the helicopter's landing skids and attaching explosive "red light/green light" gum to the windshield. The ensuing explosion kills Phelps and Krieger, with Ethan narrowly escaping. Kittridge, now in possession of the NOC list and Max's true identity, reinstates Luther as an IMF agent and drops his investigation against Ethan, who resigns from the IMF. As Ethan flies home, a flight attendant approaches him and through a coded phrase asks if he's ready for another mission.