The governor Anton Antonovich Skvoznik-Dmukhanovsky collected all the officials of the city and reported that he had received a letter from his friend, from which he learned that in their city was going to become a government inspector, and incognito. The governor gave everyone a mandate to put in order all the government offices - the court, the hospital, etc. It turns out that in court, directly in the reception guard they have been brooding geese.
The mayor is afraid that someone would report on him, so he called the postmaster Ivan Kuzmich Shpekin and asked him to open gently the letters and to read, and then again to seal and report to him. It turns out that the postmaster has been doing so for long, and even those letters that he liked he left.
Into the room burst country squires – Piotr Ivanovich Dobchinsky and Piotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky saying excitedly that in a local restaurant stayed a young man, an official named Ivan Aleksandrovich Khlestakov. He behaves strangely, lived for two weeks, and did not pay the money. Well, they have concluded that this must have been a government inspector.
From his servant Osip it became known that Khlestakov is traveling from St. Petersburg to Saratov. On the way, he lost all his money for gambling and is left without a penny, and got stuck in this restaurant: has nothing to pay, cannot go on his way. The host does not provide lunch in debt demanding money.
When Khlestakov learns the governor came to him, he decides that the owner of the restaurant had already complained, and now he would be led to prison. Khlestakov beforehand is rehearsing an angry speech, which is going to tell the governor. When the door opens, Khlestakov pales and shrinks. At first he stutters little, but by the end of the speech says loudly that would pay everything. And say that the owner gives him not fresh beef, thus complaining on the services of the restaurant.
The governor takes it personally, apologizes, saying that the beef is always fresh in the market. He offers to move to a more comfortable apartment. Khlestakov takes it for a hint of prison, and threatens that he would complain to the Minister.
When the governor learns that Khlestakov needs money, the offers a loan, but instead of two gives four hundred rubles. Khlestakov calmed down. The governor again starts talking about the other apartment offering Khlestakov to move in with him. The last agrees.
Before he took a room in the house of the governor, Khlestakov examines the government offices at the request of the governor, although a little surprised what it is for.
When viewing the hospital Khlestakov asks why there are so few patients, and the superintendent of charities Artemy Filippovich Zemlianika explains that ever since he took the command everyone recovers like fly. The patient just enters the hospital he is already recovered, and no so much because of the much medication but because of much honesty and order.
Khlestakov somewhat is bored the inspection, and he asks if there are any entertainment companies, where it would be possible to play cards. The governor says in fear that they never had such places. Luka Lukich, the inspector of schools, retorted aside: "And he, a scoundrel, yesterday won a hundred rubles."
They come in the governor’s house. The governor introduces the inspector to his wife and a daughter of marriageable age. They begin to ask the guest about how he lives. Khlestakov, realizing that he is taken for some of a high official, starts to lie brazenly, saying that in the capital absolutely everyone knows him, that he often has dinner with a minister, and even once he asked to run the department. After his story everyone became numb, they do not even know how to address him.
At a time when Khlestakov is sleeping everyone in the house go on tiptoe. Officials decided to slip Khlestakov a bribe and sent with this purpose Amos Fedorovich, the judge, as he commands the language, he had "every single word, is the language of Cicero" During the visit, Amos Fedorovich accidentally drops the money. Khlestakov raises and asks to lend them. Next comes the postmaster, Khlestakov also borrows from him. Only Artemy Filippovich Zemlianika says about the real state of things. Khlestakov borrows from him as well.
Left alone, Khlestakov decides to write about all this to the journalist so he could publish an article in the newspaper. Khlestakov says in a letter about everything that happened to him.
Khlestakov hears some noises; merchants come to him with a complaint against the governor. Khlestakov is listening to them carefully and promises to help.
The scene in the living room. Khlestakov and Marya Antonovna, the governor’s daughter, are sitting nearby. Khlestakov pulls the chair closer, then she pushes hers away, and so several times. Then he kisses her on the shoulder. She angrily gets up and makes an offended look. He falls to his knees and says it's all because of love to her. At this time Anna Andreyevna enters finding such a scene. She asks to explain what's going on here and says her daughter to leave. Khlestakov himself notes that the mother is not ugly as well, he rushes to his knees and also declares his love to her. At this time Marya Antonovna enters seeing the scene, her eyes are welling with tears. Khlestakov rushes to her, asking her to marry him.
It becomes known that the wedding is planned. Khlestakov says that he needs to go for one day to his uncle and leaves.
The governor summons merchants, announces them that Khlestakov will soon be his son in law, and for the fact that they complained about him, they will not have good. Merchants are asking for forgiveness.
Postmaster appears with a message that Khlestakov is not a government inspector. He read a letter which he sent to the journalist. The Governor is in horror.
At that moment enters a gendarme and demands the governor to the officer, who had just arrived from St. Petersburg.