The Rover follows the escapades of a band of banished English cavaliers as they enjoy themselves at a carnival in Naples. The story strings together multiple plotlines revolving around the amorous adventures of these Englishmen, who pursue a pair of noble Spanish sisters, as well as a mistress and common prostitute.
The titular character is a raffish naval captain, Willmore. He falls in love with a wealthy noble Spanish woman named Hellena, who is determined to experience love before her brother, Pedro, sends her to a convent. Hellena falls in love with Willmore, but difficulties arise when a famous courtesan, Angellica Bianca, also falls in love with Willmore.
As this plot unravels, Hellena's older sister, Florinda, attempts to avoid an unappealing arranged marriage to her brother's best friend, and devises a plan to marry her true love, Colonel Belvile. Finally, the third major plot of the play concerns English countryman Blunt, a naive and vengeful man who becomes convinced that a girl, Lucetta, has fallen in love with him. When she turns out to be a prostitute and thief, he is humiliated and attempts to rape Florinda as revenge against all women for the pain and damage that Lucetta has caused him.
In the end, Florinda and Belvile are married, and Hellena and Willmore commit to marry one another.