The film's world premiere was on April 2, 1968, at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C. It opened two days later at the Warner Cinerama Theatre in Hollywood, and Loew's Capitol in New York. Kubrick then deleted nineteen minutes of footage from the film before its general release in five other U.S. cities on April 10, 1968, and internationally in five cities the following day, where it was shown in 70mm format, used a six-track stereo magnetic soundtrack, and projected in the 2.21:1 aspect ratio. The general release of the film in its 35mm anamorphic format took place in autumn 1968 and used either a four-track magnetic stereo soundtrack or an optical monaural soundtrack.
The original seventy-millimetre release, like many Super Panavision 70 films of the era such as Grand Prix, was advertised as being in "Cinerama" in cinemas equipped with special projection optics and a deeply curved screen. In standard cinemas, the film was identified as a seventy-millimetre production. The original release of 2001: A Space Odyssey in seventy-millimetre Cinerama with six-track sound played continually for more than a year in several venues, and for one hundred and three weeks in Los Angeles.
The following year, 2001 was appointed by a United States Department of State committee to be the American entry at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival. The film was re-released in 1974, 1977, and again in 1980. Once 2001, the film's timeset, arrived, a restoration of the seventy-millimetre version was screened at the Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival, and the production was also reissued to selected film houses in North America, Europe and Asia.
The film has been released in several forms:
- In 1980, MGM/CBS Home Video released the film on VHS and Betamax home video.
- In 1987, it was released on VHS by MGM/UA Home Video.
- In 1997, MGM released the film on DVD.
- In 1999, it was re-released on VHS, and as part of the "Stanley Kubrick Collection" in both VHS format (1999) and DVD (2000) with remastered sound and picture. In some video releases, three title cards were added to the three "blank screen" moments; "OVERTURE" at the beginning, "ENTR'ACTE" during the intermission, and "EXIT MUSIC" after the closing credits.
Additionally, the film was released in high definition on both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.