An orphanage for girls in New York City during the 1930's is home for Annie, a ten year old precocious curly haired redhead. She dreams of her real parents returning to take her home with them, ignoring the fact that they dropped her off at the orphanage when she was an infant. The orphanage is run by Miss Hannigan, a lonely lush, looking for love but until that day comes Miss Hannigan is the bane of the girls existence. They know how to get around her though.
Then one day, out of the blue, Grace Farrell, the personal secretary to billionaire Oliver Warbucks, visits the orphanage to adopt an orphan for one week only as the guest of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie is chosen and taken to the Manhattan mansion where she is pampered day and night by the staff.
Annie confided in Mr. Warbucks that she wants to find her real parents. Warbucks offered a reward to her real parents if they come forward. Enter Miss Hannigan's ne'er-do-well brother Rooster Hannigan and his sticky-fingered accomplice Lily St. Regis. They convince Warbucks and Miss Farrell that they are Annie's parents, get the reward money and flee with Annie.
Their ruse is discovered and Oliver Warbucks must do whatever necessary to rescue Annie from the trio.