The novel begins on May 20, 1859. A young man who just graduated from university, Arkady Kirsanov goes to the inn where his father is waiting for him – Nikolai Petrovich. Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov is now 43 years old, but he does not look very young. He worries before meeting with his son. Moreover, the son does not go alone – together with him, his student friend Evgeny Vasilyevich Bazarov should come to the estate.
Nikolai Petrovich devoted his entire life to the education of his son. Even when Arkady was already a student, Nikolai Petrovich lived in Petersburg with him, got acquainted with his friends and tried to understand what modern young people live by. My wife Nikolai Petrovich died 12 years ago, and now son Arkady and brother Pavel Petrovich were the people
The acquaintance of Pavel Petrovich Kirsanov and Yevgeny Bazarov immediately grows into a mutual dislike. The next day a big quarrel broke out between them, the instigator of which, in truth, becomes Pavel Petrovich. For Bazarov, there is nothing that he would not deny. He believes that art can not be more valuable and more important than chemistry, and science is first of all practice, and only then theory. Nihilism (that is, denying everything) Bazarov seems to Pavel Petrovich simply blasphemous. He can not understand how one can deny everything, including the love that he, Pavel Petrovich, once experienced, and that has devastated him so much that he, after parting with his beloved, was no longer capable of any other feelings or thoughts. Bazarov convinces him that he and his brother have no idea what modern life is.
In the provincial town of Bazarov and younger Kirsanov meet those who consider themselves followers of Bazarov – Sitnikov and Kukshin. They do not learn anything and do not acquire any profession, but their nihilism has reached such an extent that they leave far behind even Bazarov himself.
Arkady gets acquainted with Odintsov, it seems to him that he is in love with her. In fact, this is not so – his feeling is just decided. But Bazarov became interested in Odintsov seriously, and his dreams are not at all about how he reads poetry to her under the moon, but about something more.
Having arrived at Anna Sergeyevna’s home, the friends get acquainted with her younger sister Katya, with whom Arkady is approaching.
Bazarov leaves Anna Sergeyevna, because she does not want to become a “slave to her passion,” and wants to remain independent of everything. Odintsov does not protest against his departure, since he also believes that the main thing is not tranquility but calm.
Bazarov goes to his parents, but can not live with them without experiencing boredom, and a couple of days. He returns to the estate to Kirsanov, where, because of his liberty in relation to Fenechka, he is forced to fight a duel with Pavel Petrovich. Bazarov easily injures him and himself provides first aid. But after this duel Pavel Petrovich begins to insist that his brother marry Fenechka, although earlier he actively opposed this.
Bazarov parted with Arkady and Odintsova and moved to live with her parents. Soon, opening the body of a person who died of typhus, he becomes infected and dies. Before his death, he is explained with Odintsov, who comes to say goodbye to him. Six months after these events, there are two weddings at once: Arkady is crowned with Katya, and Nikolai Petrovich with Fenechka. Arkady takes over the management of the estate and achieves a great success in this. Nikolai Petrovich is engaged in public work. Pavel Petrovich is leaving to live in Dresden. And on the grave of Bazarov often come his elderly parents and grieve about the untimely departed from their son.