The film was a popular success, earning US$4,420,000 in rentals in North America during its initial theatrical release.
It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In 2000 readers of Total Film magazine voted it the 24th greatest comedic film of all time. It holds a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 68 reviews. It is ranked number 21 in the All-Time High Scores chart of Metacritic's Video/DVD section with an average score of 96. It is also listed as number 26 on Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Dr. Strangelove is on Roger Ebert's list of The Great Movies, described as "arguably the best political satire of the century." It was also rated as the fifth greatest film in the 2002 Sight & Sound's directors' poll—the only comedy in the top ten.