Eleven years ago, wizards rejoiced all over the world, and Muggles (non-magic folk) were confused. They celebrated because He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was defeated. In other words, Voldemort (the evilest wizard around) killed Harry Potter's parents, but for some strange reason, he couldn't kill little baby Harry. Now Voldemort seems to have disappeared. Overnight, baby Harry has become a hero – "The Boy Who Lived." Having lost his family and home, Harry also has become an orphan. Dumbledore (the principle of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft), Professor McGonagall (a teacher at Hogwarts), and Hagrid (a groundskeeper at Hogwarts) find a home for baby Harry with his Muggle extended family, the Dursleys.
Cut to present day, when ten-year-old Harry lives with his super-mean aunt and uncle and their son Dudley. When they go to the zoo for Dudley's birthday, Harry encounters a sympathetic snake. He's able to speak to the friendly reptile and somehow seems to have removed the glass from its cage, so it can go back to Brazil. After the trip to the zoo, mysterious letters start arriving for Harry. His uncle, Mr. Dursley, is furious and tries to keep them from Harry. But the letters keep arriving at such a rapid rate that, the evening before Harry's eleventh birthday, his uncle takes the whole family to a deserted island to escape all of the mail.
They can't hide for long, though; Hagrid shows up on Harry's birthday to deliver the letter, and the news that Harry's a wizard and has been admitted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The next day he takes Harry to shop for school supplies at Diagon Alley, where Harry learns more about the wizarding world. He meets Malfoy (a bully) and Hogwarts' new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Quirrell. Harry also buys his first wand. Sweeeet. Hagrid also picks up a mysterious package at Gringotts, the goblin bank.
Later that summer, Harry travels to Hogwarts. He has to take a train from platform nine and three-quarters, a magical platform! A family called the Weasleys helps him find his way, and he begins to make friends with one of their sons, Ron. He meets other first-year students like Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom.
Upon their arrival at Hogwarts, the first years are Sorted into one of four houses (think dormitories). Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville are all Gryffindors (a house known for bravery); Malfoy is a Slytherin (a house known for ambition, and infamous for producing dark wizards). They begin taking all kinds of classes in magic. Harry dislikes the Potions teacher, Snape, who is unfair and kind of mean.
Harry learns that there was an attempted robbery at Gringotts bank, but nothing was taken. He guesses that the robbers were after what Hagrid picked up. Hagrid lets it slip that it has something to do with someone called Nicolas Flamel.
Malfoy becomes a big bully. During their first broom-flying lesson, he teases Neville. In defending Neville, Harry realizes he's a natural at flying. He's a superstar on a broomstick. Although Harry's broken rules by flying unsupervised, Professor McGonagall rewards him by putting him on the Gryffindor Quidditch team as Seeker (a very important position on the team).
Later, Malfoy and Harry have a fight, and Malfoy challenges Harry to a wizard duel at midnight. Hermione and Ron accompany Harry, but Malfoy doesn't show – he was trying to get them in trouble for roaming the school while they should be in bed. As they hurry to get back to the dorm, the three friends stumble into a forbidden part of Hogwarts, where they bump into a three-headed monster dog. Luckily, they escape in the nick of time.
Harry and Ron aren't getting along with Hermione, but make up when they rescue her from a troll that's terrorizing the school. Though they get in trouble to taking on the troll alone, they also show their bravery. Now the three are inseparable.
As the first Quidditch match approaches, the three friends suspect Snape of wanting the package from Gringotts. During the game, Harry's broom acts weird and seems to be hexed. Harry's saved, but his friends blame Snape for putting him in danger.
During the winter break, Harry stays at Hogwarts and is given an invisibility cloak that once belonged to his dad. He uses it to sneak around the castle and discovers the Mirror of Erised in one of Hogwarts' many secret rooms. When he looks into the mirror he sees his parents, but when he shares the mirror with Ron, Ron sees himself as a hero. Dumbledore catches Harry at the mirror and explains that the mirror shows you your heart's desire. The wise old wizard then says he's going to take the mirror away because it's dangerous.
When classes resume after winter break, Harry, Ron, and Hermione figure out who Flamel is – an alchemist and the only person in the world to have the Sorcerer's Stone, which can provide immortality. They decide the Stone must be what was hidden at Gringotts and is now being guarded by the three-headed dog.
When not trying to solve the mystery of Nicholas Flamel, Harry is trying to balance Quidditch and school work. Gryffindor wins another Quidditch game, which Snape referees, and then Harry hears Snape and Quirrell arguing.
Meanwhile, Hagrid adopts a dragon, which is illegal. Ron, Hermione, and Harry have to convince him that's it's just not practical to raise a baby dragon, and find a way to smuggle the dragon out. Malfoy spies on them and tries to turn them in. When Harry and Hermione have successfully sent the dragon out in the middle of the night, they're caught by McGonagall – along with Neville, who was trying to warn them, and Malfoy, who tattled – and are given really big detention. Gryffindor moves to the last place in the house cup contest, and everyone is really mad at them.
Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy have detention with Hagrid in the forest at night. They are supposed to figure out what's killing unicorns and drinking their blood. Harry runs into some centaurs who see trouble ahead in the stars. They all realize that Voldemort is trying to return and that he's the one killing unicorns.
After the first-year exams, Harry, Ron, and Hermione talk with Hagrid and realize that he said too much about the Sorcerer's Stone to the mysterious stranger who gave him the dragon. Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect that Snape is after it. That night they try to retrieve the Stone. Neville attempts to stop them, so they have to temporarily paralyze him with magic. They pass by the three-headed dog by playing it music, only to meet with another series of challenges. First, they're trapped by a Devil's Snare plant, then they have to catch a flying key, and then they have to play a life-size game of wizard chess. The chess game takes Ron out, leaving Harry and Hermione to solve a logic puzzle and drink potions to go forward. There's only enough for one, so Harry moves on and sends Hermione back for help.
To Harry's surprise, he runs into Quirrell, not Snape like he thought he would. Quirrell reveals that Voldemort is living in him like a parasite. (Eek!) He tries to use Harry to get the Stone. He makes Harry use the Mirror of Erised, and Harry finds himself holding the Stone and lying about it. Quirrell/Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but when he touches Harry, he burns. Harry blacks out.
When Harry comes to, he's in the infirmary with Dumbledore, and Quirrell is dead. Dumbledore explains that Harry defeated Quirrell/Voldemort through the protection of his mother's love. He also mentions that the Stone has been destroyed.
Later, at the end-of-year banquet, Dumbledore praises Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Neville for the parts they played in defeating Quirrell. He rewards them by giving Gryffindor house tons of points. They win the house cup for Gryffindor, and even pass all of their exams. Then, they leave Hogwarts for the summer and part ways at the train station. Though it stinks to be returning to the Dursleys, Harry explains how much easier his time with them will be now that he can do magic.
Mr. Dursley, a well-off Englishman, notices strange happenings on his way to work one day. That night, Albus Dumbledore, the head of a wizardry academy called Hogwarts, meets Professor McGonagall, who also teaches at Hogwarts, and a giant named Hagrid outside the Dursley home. Dumbledore tells McGonagall that someone named Voldemort has killed a Mr. and Mrs. Potter and tried unsuccessfully to kill their baby son, Harry. Dumbledore leaves Harry with an explanatory note in a basket in front of the Dursley home.
Ten years later, the Dursley household is dominated by the Dursleys’ son, Dudley, who torments and bullies Harry. Dudley is spoiled, while Harry is forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. At the zoo on Dudley’s birthday, the glass in front of a boa constrictor exhibit disappears, frightening everyone. Harry is later punished for this incident.
Mysterious letters begin arriving for Harry. They worry Mr. Dursley, who tries to keep them from Harry, but the letters keep arriving through every crack in the house. Finally, he flees with his family to a secluded island shack on the eve of Harry’s eleventh birthday. At midnight, they hear a large bang on the door and Hagrid enters. Hagrid hands Harry an admissions letter to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry learns that the Dursleys have tried to deny Harry’s wizardry all these years.
The next day, Hagrid takes Harry to London to shop for school supplies. First they go to the wizard bank, Gringotts, where Harry learns that his parents have left him a hefty supply of money. They shop on the wizards’ commercial street known as Diagon Alley, where Harry is fitted for his school uniform. Harry buys books, ingredients for potions, and, finally, a magic wand—the companion wand to the evil Voldemort’s.
A month later, Harry goes to the train station and catches his train to Hogwarts on track nine and three quarters. On the train, Harry befriends other first-year students like Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, a Muggle girl chosen to attend Hogwarts. At school, the first-years take turns putting on the “Sorting Hat” to find out in which residential house they will live. Harry fears being assigned to the sinister Slytherin house, but he, Ron, and Hermione end up in the noble Gryffindor house.
As the school year gets underway, Harry discovers that his Potions professor, Snape, does not like him. Hagrid reassures Harry that Snape has no reason to dislike him. During their first flying lesson on broomsticks, the students are told to stay grounded while the teacher takes an injured boy named Neville to the hospital. Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin bully, snatches Neville’s prized toy and flies off with it to the top of a tree. Harry flies after him. Malfoy throws the ball in the air, and Harry speeds downward, making a spectacular catch. Professor McGonagall witnesses this incident. Instead of punishing Harry, she recommends that he play Quidditch, a much-loved game that resembles soccer played on broomsticks, for Gryffindor. Later that day, Malfoy challenges Harry to a wizard’s duel at midnight. Malfoy doesn’t show up at the appointed place, and Harry almost gets in trouble. While trying to hide, he accidentally discovers a fierce three-headed dog guarding a trapdoor in the forbidden third-floor corridor.
On Halloween, a troll is found in the building. The students are all escorted back to their dormitories, but Harry and Ron sneak off to find Hermione, who is alone and unaware of the troll. Unwittingly, they lock the troll in the girls’ bathroom along with Hermione. Together, they defeat the troll. Hermione tells a lie to protect Harry and Ron from being punished. During Harry’s first Quidditch match, his broom jerks out of control. Hermione notices Snape staring at Harry and muttering a curse. She concludes that he is jinxing Harry’s broom, and she sets Snape’s clothes on fire. Harry regains control of the broom and makes a spectacular play to win the Quidditch match.
For Christmas, Harry receives his father’s invisibility cloak, and he explores the school, unseen, late at night. He discovers the Mirror of Erised, which displays the deepest desire of whoever looks in it. Harry looks in it and sees his parents alive. After Christmas, Harry, Ron, and Hermione begin to unravel the mysterious connection between a break-in at Gringotts and the three-headed guard dog. They learn that the dog is guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is capable of providing eternal life and unlimited wealth to its owner and belongs to Nicolas Flamel, Dumbledore’s old partner.
A few weeks later, Hagrid wins a dragon egg in a poker game. Because it is illegal to own dragons, Harry, Ron, and Hermione contact Ron’s older brother, who studies dragons. They arrange to get rid of the dragon but get caught. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are severely punished, and Gryffindor is docked 150 points. Furthermore, part of their punishment is to go into the enchanted forest with Hagrid to find out who has been killing unicorns recently. In the forest, Harry comes upon a hooded man drinking unicorn blood. The man tries to attack Harry, but Harry is rescued by a friendly centaur who tells him that his assailant was Voldemort. Harry also learns that it is Voldemort who has been trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Harry decides that he must find the stone before Voldemort does. He, Ron, and Hermione sneak off that night to the forbidden third-floor corridor. They get past the guard dog and perform many impressive feats as they get closer and closer to the stone. Harry ultimately finds himself face to face with Quirrell, who announces that Harry must die. Knowing that Harry desires to find the stone, Quirrell puts Harry in front of the Mirror of Erised and makes him state what he sees. Harry sees himself with the stone in his pocket, and at that same moment he actually feels it in his pocket. But he tells Quirrell that he sees something else. A voice tells Quirrell that the boy is lying and requests to speak to Harry face to face. Quirrell removes his turban and reveals Voldemort’s face on the back of his head. Voldemort, who is inhabiting Quirrell’s body, instructs Quirrell to kill Harry, but Quirrell is burned by contact with the boy. A struggle ensues and Harry passes out.
When Harry regains consciousness, he is in the hospital with Dumbledore. Dumbledore explains that he saved Harry from Quirrell just in time. He adds that he and Flamel have decided to destroy the stone. Harry heads down to the end-of-year banquet, where Slytherin is celebrating its seventh consecutive win of the house championship cup. Dumbledore gets up and awards many last-minute points to Gryffindor for the feats of Harry and his friends, winning the house cup for Gryffindor. Harry returns to London to spend the summer with the Dursleys.