Cameron James (Gordon-Levitt), a new student at Padua Stadium High School, notices the beautiful and popular Bianca Stratford (Oleynik) and he is immediately smitten with her. Bianca is shallow and conceited, and that her father does not allow her to date.
At the Stratford residence, Bianca’s outcast older sister, Kat (Julia Stiles), is in conflict with their overprotective father (Miller). Bianca is also fighting with their father regarding his strict no-dating rule. Kat’s aversion to dating prompts their father to come up with a new rule, to Bianca’s fury: Bianca can only date if Kat is also dating.
Cameron makes a failed attempt to ask Bianca out on a date, she informs him of her father’s rule. This motivates Cameron to find a boy who is willing to date Kat. Cameron suggests Patrick Verona (Ledger), another outcast who is just as ill-tempered as Kat. Cameron tries asking Patrick for his assistance, but Patrick scares him off. Finally Patrick agreed. They become a couple, but Kat remains unaware that Patrick was paid to date her. Meanwhile, Cameron continues to pursue Bianca, but she remains interested in Joey, unaware that he plans to use her only for sex.
Bianca tries to convince her father to let her attend the prom with Joey, but he refuses because Kat is not going to the prom. When Bianca confronts Kat, it is revealed that Kat previously dated Joey and they slept together once. She tells Bianca that her feelings of isolation from her fellow students ultimately stemmed from the incident with Joey.
Bianca and Kat end up going to the prom with Cameron and Patrick, respectively. Joey is furious to learn that Bianca has gone to the prom with Cameron, and confronts Patrick about the “arrangement” in front of Kat. Kat is very angry at Patrick when she discovers the truth and she leaves the prom. Joey subsequently confronts Cameron about manipulating the “deal” for himself and starts violently attacking him, but Bianca punches Joey numerous times for using her, for hurting Kat’s feelings, and for punching Cameron. Bianca and Cameron share a kiss and leave Joey lying on the floor in pain.
The next morning, Kat and Bianca’s relationship appears to have improved drastically as Bianca attempts to comfort her older sister. Their father allows Kat to go to Sarah Lawrence College; she is extremely grateful and hugs him with happiness. Later at school, Kat reads a poem which she wrote for English class, titled “10 Things I Hate About You”, revealing her true feelings for Patrick. He is shown to be touched by her revelation. After school, Kat finds a guitar in her car that Patrick bought her with the money that Joey paid him, and he admits that he messed up his and Joey’s deal by falling for her. Kat forgives Patrick and the two reconcile with a kiss.
I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme.
I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you….Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.