Leontes, King of Sicilia, is convinced his old friend, Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been having an affair with his pregnant wife, Hermione. When the child (a girl) is born, certain it is Polixenes’ rather than his, Leontes demands it be cast out to another kingdom. Hermione is put on trial at which an oracle, sent from the god Apollo, is called upon to deliver its verdict. During the trial, news arrives that Mamillius, first child of Leontes and Hermione, has died. This prompts Hermione to collapse. As the queen, too, is pronounced dead, her newborn baby (now named Perdita) is abandoned on the coast of Bohemia.
Sixteen years later in rural Bohemia, adopted and brought up by shepherds, Perdita has begun a relationship, by coincidence, with Polixenes’ son, Florizel. During the spring feast, Polixenes, in disguise, witnesses his son’s proposal to Perdita. Furious, Polixenes reveals himself, disinherits Florizel and threatens to kill Perdita. The young couple escape to Sicilia.
Leontes, still grieving for his wife and son after sixteen years, receives Florizel and Perdita at the Sicilian court. He discovers Perdita to be his lost daughter. Paulina, lady-in-waiting to Hermione, leads the assembled company, including the now reunited Leontes and Polixenes, to view a statue of Hermione.