Part 1: Chapter 1
British surgeon Lemuel Gulliver talks about how the ship he worked on was wrecked by a storm and he found himself on an unknown shore. Gulliver falls asleep and wakes up tied to the ground, with miniscule people walking on his body and speaking an unknown language. He tries to loosen himself, but is attacked by little archers, then given food and drink, and finally carried to a place near their capital city and chained to a temple.
Part 1: Chapters 2 & 3
Gulliver talks to the Lilliputian emperor and becomes an attraction. The government provides him with necessities, and they make an inventory of his possessions and store his weapons away. The emperor entertains Gulliver with job candidates dancing on ropes and people going over or under sticks to win badges. In return, Gulliver builds a platform for horsemen to exercise upon, and then poses as a colossus for troops to march under. After petitioning daily, Gulliver is freed under certain conditions.
Part 1: Chapters 4 & 5
Gulliver learns that Lilliput is divided into two political factions: the high-heeled Tramecksans and the low-heeled Slamecksans. He offers to defend Lilliput against an invasion from Blefuscu, which harbors a sect of Lilliputians who believe that eggs must be broken on the big end first, contrary to the official Lilliputian doctrine. Gulliver crosses the channel to Blefuscu and captures several of their ships, forcing them to sign a peace treaty with Lilliput. Later, Gulliver extinguishes a fire in the palace by urinating on the building.
Part 1: Chapters 6–8
Gulliver details some Lilliputian customs regarding education, death, and crime punishment. He talks about his everyday life and some slander spread about him. Gulliver is charged with treason by enemies in the government and flees to Blefuscu. There, he finds a boat of normal size, repairs it with the emperor's help, sails back to England, and makes a good profit showing miniature animals he carried away in his pockets.
Part 2: Chapters 1 & 2
Gulliver sets sail again. This time, he is left by his crewmen on an unknown land as they flee from one of its giant inhabitants. Gulliver is rescued and sheltered by a giant farmer and his family, and especially cared for by their nine-year-old daughter, whom he calls Glumdalclitch and who teaches him their language. Later, the farmer and his daughter display Gulliver as a curiosity.
Part 2: Chapters 3–5
The queen buys Gulliver from the farmer and takes him and Glumdalclitch to live in the palace. The king sends for scholars to study Gulliver. Gulliver describes the location and geography of Brobdingnag, and the city of Lorbrulgrud, which he often explores in a special traveling box. He also talks about some accidents caused by the envious court dwarf and animals, his visits to court ladies, and a boat the queen ordered for him to practice rowing.
Part 2: Chapters 6–8
Gulliver shows his skills making objects and playing music for the royal family. He discusses British institutions and culture with the king, horrifying him with descriptions of gunpowder and its destructive uses. Gulliver describes the Brobdingnagians' education, laws, books, and army. One day, when he is on the coast and alone in his traveling box, an eagle grabs the box and drops it in the ocean. Gulliver is rescued by a ship, tells the captain about Brobdingnag, goes home, but has some trouble adjusting to his old life.
Part 3: Chapters 1–3
Gulliver sets sail again but is attacked by pirates and sent out in a boat. He is pulled up by the inhabitants of a floating island. Gulliver describes the people's strange appearance and absent-mindedness, and explains they highly value mathematics and music, are good with theories, but clumsy in practical matters. He also describes the floating island, Laputa, how it moves, and how the king uses it to collect petitions from the regions below and punish them.
Part 3: Chapters 4–11
Gulliver leaves the floating island to explore the regions below. He visits an area near Lagado where the land has been ruined by useless theories and techniques from Laputa. There, he visits the academy and observes some absurd projects. He travels to Glubbdubdrib, the island of magicians, and talks to the spirits of historical leaders and philosophers. Next, he goes to Luggnagg, where he learns about the Struldbrugs, who are immortal but unhappy. Finally, he manages to go back home, via Japan, and finds his family in good health.
Part 4: Chapters 1–4
Gulliver leaves his pregnant wife to set sail as the captain of a ship. His crewmen mutiny and leave him on an unknown shore. There, he is attacked by wild animals and rescued by intelligent horses. After being taken to a house and fed, Gulliver realizes the horses (or Houyhnhnms) are the intelligent animals and the humans (or Yahoos) are the wild beasts. He learns the horses' language and explains to them how humans and horses behave in other countries.
Part 4: Chapters 5–12
Gulliver explains European history, economy, government, and society to his Houyhnhnm master. He also describes the Houyhnhnms' society, education, and attitude toward death. Disgusted by the Yahoos' nature and attracted to the Houyhnhnms' values, Gulliver no longer desires to return to humankind. However, banished by an assembly of Houyhnhnms, he departs in a canoe. After trying to find another island to live alone but being attacked by natives, Gulliver is rescued by a ship and forced back to England. There, disgusted by his family, whom he now considers Yahoos, Gulliver buys horses to converse with.