Section 1: Kicking
The Skag Boys, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mother Superior – Narrated by Renton. Mark and Simon (also known as Sick Boy) are watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie when they decide to go buy heroin from Johnny Swan (aka Mother Superior) since they are both feeling symptoms of withdrawal. They cook up with Raymie (who kisses Sick Boy on the mouth) and Alison (who states about heroin "That beats any meat injection...that beats any fuckin' cock in the world..."). After being informed that he should go see Kelly, who has just had an abortion, Renton instead eagerly returns home to watch the rest of his movie.
Junk Dilemmas No. 63 – Narrated by Renton. A short (less than a page) piece comparing his high to an internal sea, while noting: "more short-term sea, more long-term poison".
The First Day of the Edinburgh Festival – Narrated by Renton. Mark initially makes an attempt to come off heroin by acquiring a bare room and all the things he will require when coming down. When withdrawal begins to set in however, he resolves to get another hit to ease the decline. Unable to find any heroin, he acquires opium suppositories which, after a heavy bout of diarrhea, he must recover from a public toilet.
In Overdrive – Narrated by Sick Boy. Simon attempts to pick up girls while being annoyed by Mark, who wants to watch videos. Sick Boy loses Renton and launches into an internal self-glorifying, nihilistic diatribe.
Growing Up in Public – Third person narration following Nina, Mark's cousin. Nina is with her family after her Uncle Andy's recent death. She initially feigns indifference but then breaks down without even realising it. It is also revealed that Mark had a catatonic younger brother who died several years before.
Victory on New Year's Day – Third person narration following Stevie. At a party consisting of almost all the key characters in the novel, Stevie cannot stop thinking about his girlfriend who he has asked to marry, but has been left waiting for an answer. They optimistically reunite at the railway station following a couple of phone calls.
It Goes without Saying – Narrated by Renton. Lesley's baby, Dawn, has died. Though it appears to be a cot death, it could also have been from neglect. The Skag Boys are uncomfortable and unsure of how to respond to the tragedy as Lesley cries hysterically. However, Simon/Sick Boy becomes notably more emotional and distressed than the others and eventually breaks down and cries as well, stating he is kicking heroin for good and clearly implying Dawn was his daughter. Mark wants to comfort his friend, but is unable to form the words and simply cooks a shot for himself in order to deal with the situation. A sobbing Lesley asks him to also cook her up a hit, which Mark does but makes sure he injects himself before her, stating the action "goes without saying" and proving the harsh truth that no matter what, junk comes first for them all.
Junk Dilemmas No. 64 – Narrated by Renton. Mark's mother is knocking on his door while crying. He ignores her pleas and cooks up a shot. He feels guilty about letting her down, but continues to use drugs anyway.
Her Man – Narrated by Second Prize. After a painful argument with his girlfriend Carol, Second Prize meets Tommy in a pub, and Tommy confronts a man who is openly punching his own girlfriend. They are shocked to find the woman supports her abusive boyfriend instead of her would-be liberators by digging her nails into Tommy's face, inciting a brawl. Second Prize attacks a man who had been laughing at the scene earlier, demanding, "It's a big joke tae you, eh?" While the couple slips out unnoticed, Tommy and Second Prize find themselves taking the blame for the whole affair from the pub locals. On the bus ride home, Second Prize internally commends Tommy for not hitting the woman who attacks him, and reveals that his earlier argument with Carol had turned physical, reflecting: "Ah've done loads ay things ay things in ma time ah'm no proud ay, bit ah've nivir hit a burd. What Carol says is shite. She says thit ah used violence oan her, bit ah nivir hit her. Ah jist held ontae her so thit we could talk. She sais restrainin is like hittin, it's still violence against her. Ah cannae see that. Aw ah wanted tae dae wis tae keep her thair, tae talk."
Speedy Recruitment – Varied narration (third person while together in the pub, first person for each interview.) Spud and Renton both have a job interview for the same job, but neither of them wants the job as they would prefer to be unemployed and to continue to receive social security. Both Renton and Spud take amphetamine prior to their interview, where Renton pretends to be an upper-class heroin addict, while Spud rambles incoherently.
Section 2: Relapsing
Scotland Takes Drugs in Psychic Defence – Narrated by Tommy. He goes to an Iggy Pop gig on the same day as his girlfriend's birthday. He spends the entire chapter using speed and alcohol. The chapter's title refers to an Iggy Pop lyric, which Tommy vehemently affirms.
The Glass – Narrated by Renton. Focuses on his "friendship" with Begbie. Renton, Begbie and their girlfriends meet up for a drink before going to a party, but it ends when Begbie throws a glass off a balcony, hitting someone and splitting open their head. After this, Begbie smiles at Renton and proceeds to announce to the party he will find whoever threw that glass before attacking random innocent people in the pub and setting off a huge pub brawl. Renton concludes his thoughts on Begbie saying "He really is a cunt ay the first order. Nae doubt about that. The problem is, he's a mate n aw. What kin ye dae?"
A Disappointment – Narrated by Begbie. Continues the theme of the last chapter. Begbie recalls an ordinary story of being in the pub and staring at a man whom he wanted to fight.
Cock Problems – Narrated by Renton. Tommy comes round to Renton's flat (shortly after Renton injected a shot into his penis, hence the title) after being dumped by his girlfriend. Tommy asks Renton to give him some heroin, which he reluctantly does. This sets off Tommy's gradual decline into addiction.
Traditional Sunday Breakfast – Narrated by Davie. Davie has woken up at the house of his girlfriend's mother in a puddle of urine, vomit, and feces, after a night of drinking. Embarrassed, he attempts to make off with the sheets and wash them himself. However, Gail's mother starts tugging at the sheets, he resists, and the contents fly all over the family, their kitchen, and their breakfast.
Junk Dilemmas No. 65 – Narrated by Renton. Mark has been lying in a heroin induced daze with someone (whom he ascertains to be Spud), wondering how long they've been there and noting that it could be days since anybody said anything. Renton stresses how cold he is to Spud. Spud is completely unresponsive and Mark thinks he may be dead, seeming unsurprised if he is.
Grieving and Mourning in Port Sunshine – third person narration. Renton's brother Billy and his friends Lenny, Naz, Peasbo, and Jackie are waiting for their friend Granty to arrive for a game of cards, as he is holding the money pot. They later find out that Granty is dead and his girlfriend has disappeared with the money, prompting them to beat Jackie, whom they knew to have been sleeping with her.
Section 3: Kicking Again
Inter Shitty – Narrated by Begbie. Begbie and Renton have pulled an unknown crime and have decided to lie low in London. The chapter covers their train journey.
Na Na and Other Nazis – Narrated by Spud, who has managed to kick heroin. He visits his grandmother, where his mixed-race uncle Dode is staying. He recounts the trouble that Dode has had with racism growing up, particularly an event when he and Spud went to a pub and were soon assaulted by white power skinheads saying slogans such as "ain't no black in the Union Jack". This abuse led to a fight, which left Dode hospitalised, where Spud visits him. "I've had worse in the past and I'll have worse in the future" Dode tells Spud, who begs him not to say such things. "He looks at us like I'll never understand and I know he's probably right."
The First Shag in Ages – Third-person narration. Renton has kicked heroin and is restless. He ends up picking up a girl at a nightclub, Dianne, and sleeping with her, unaware that she is only fourteen. He is later forced to repeatedly lie to her parents at breakfast the following morning. Despite his guilt and discomfort, he presumably sleeps with Dianne again when she shows up at his flat.
Strolling Through the Meadows – Narrated by Spud. Spud, Renton and Sick Boy take some ecstasy and stroll to the Meadows where an excited Sick Boy and Renton try to kill a squirrel but stop after Spud becomes upset by their actions towards the animal. He states to the reader that you can't love yourself if you hurt animals as it's wrong and compares their innocence to that of Simon's dead baby Dawn. He also notably states that squirrels are "lovely" and "free" and that "that's maybe what Rents can't stand" indicating Mark envies those he feels are completely unbound and free. Mark, in reaction to Spud's distress and disappointment in his actions, is clearly ashamed and Spud forgives him quickly and the pair embrace, before Simon humorously breaks them up by stating they should either "go fuck each other in the trees" or help him find Begbie and Matty.
Section 4: Blowing It
Courting Disaster – Narrated by Renton. Renton and Spud are in court for stealing books. Renton gets a suspended sentence due to his attempts at rehabilitation, while Spud is given a short prison sentence. Those attending the hearing relocate to a nearby pub to celebrate. Renton becomes increasingly despairing of his situation and the people around him and slips out the pub's back door unnoticed with the intent of going to Swanney's for a hit, "to get us over this long, hard day."
Junk Dilemmas No. 66 – A short passage, presumably narrated by Renton. Renton reflects that his heroin hit has removed his ability to move.
Deid Dugs – Narrated by Sick Boy. Using an air rifle, Sick Boy shoots a Bull Terrier, which then attacks its skinhead owner, giving Sick Boy the excuse he needs to kill the dog, which he proceeds to do, using its own collar. He delights when a police officer arrives and informs Sick Boy that he will be recommended for a commendation.
Searching for the Inner Man – Narrated by Renton. Renton reflects on why he used heroin after seeing several psychiatrists, all of whom have different unrelenting approaches to clinical psychology taken from various 20th century psychologists. Renton's cynicism has stopped him from forming meaningful relationships with anyone, and he is unable to get any enjoyment out of anything. Mark confesses he had a hard childhood because of his catatonic younger brother.
House Arrest – Narrated by Renton. Renton relapses and has to suffer heroin withdrawal at his parents' house, where he experiences hallucinations of dead baby Dawn, the television programme he is watching, and the lecture provided by his father. He is later visited by Sick Boy and goes out to a pub with his parents, whose unnerving enthusiasm acts as a veneer for their authoritative treatment. Mark is confronted with the tedium and triviality of "normal" life, and it is hinted that he will begin using again.
Bang to Rites – Narrated by Renton. Renton's brother Billy dies in Northern Ireland with the British Army. Renton attends the funeral; there, he almost starts a fight with some of his father's unionist relatives, and ends up having sex with Billy's pregnant girlfriend in the toilets. Demonstrating some topicality, Renton discusses what is in his view the hypocrisy of Unionism, and the British in Northern Ireland (commencing with an internal rant against his father's family, who are largely bigoted Orangemen).
Junk Dilemmas No. 67 – Another extremely short passage, also presumably narrated by Renton. Renton reflects on the depravity of the world, concluding that deprivation is "relative", as well as considers the problems the pills he is about to use will cause to his veins when injected. He concludes that there are never any dilemmas with junk, and that the ones there are only show up when the junk "runs oot".
Section 5: Exile
London Crawling – Narrated by Renton. Renton finds himself stranded in London with no place to sleep. He tries to fall asleep in an all-night porno theatre, but there he meets an Italian man named Gi, who makes a pass at him. Renton says he's not gay and after Gi apologetically offers him a place to sleep, Renton takes him up on the offer. However, in the middle of the night, Renton wakes to find Gi masturbating over him and has semen on his cheeks and face. Renton reacts violently, but then takes pity on the sobbing old man. in the morning he takes Gi to breakfast and a party. On the way, Gi tells him the tragedy of his life – how he had a wife and children who he cared about deeply, yet he could not help falling in love with his brother in law Antonio. After their affair was revealed the two suffered extremely violent homophobic abuse at the hands of Antonio's brothers, leading his lover to kill himself. At the party, Renton notes sadly how frightened and confused Gi looks whilst lamenting the behaviour of the drugged and sexed up party revellers.
Bad Blood – Narrated by Davie. Davie, now HIV-positive, takes a particularly horrible revenge upon the man he suspects raped his girlfriend and gave her HIV, leading to his own contraction of the disease. Davie befriends the man, and when the man is on his deathbed Davie tells him that he just savagely raped and violently murdered the man's six-year-old son after dating the man's ex, going so far as to provide photos of the murdered child. After the man's death, Davie reveals to the reader that he never actually hurt the boy; the whole story was made up and that he had actually chloroformed the child in order to create the fake photos. The chapter ends with Davie seemingly finding a new lease of life despite his illness.
There is a Light That Never Goes Out – Third person narration. After a marathon drinking and partying session, Renton, Spud, Begbie, Gav, Alison, Kelly and Dawsy venture out for another drink and then something to eat. Spud and others reflect upon their sex lives. The chapter is named after a song by The Smiths, in whose lyrics Spud finds solace after his failed attempt at making a pass at a woman.
Feeling Free – Narrated by Kelly. Kelly and Alison create a scene in front of a construction site by getting into an argument with some construction workers. They meet some backpacking women and the foursome end up returning to Kelly's where they get high and their new-found friends reveal they are in fact lesbians from New Zealand. The girls have a general laugh about, then Renton arrives on a surprise visit for Kelly. The girls pick on him, making particular fun of his masculinity; he takes it in good humour and leaves, noting that Kelly is already busy. Immediately afterwards the women feel guilty for ganging up on him, though Kelly feels that men are only alright "when in the minority".
The Elusive Mr Hunt – Third person narration. Sick Boy prank calls Kelly's pub where she works from across the street. He asks her to look for a "Mark Hunt" and only after she has called the name out ("This boy is wantin Mark Hunt") around the pub a few times does she realise how much the men in the pub are laughing at her and how the name sounds like "my cunt (when said in a Scottish accent)" causing her a great deal of embarrassment. Renton is present in the pub at the time and laughing along with the other men at Kelly, until he realises she has tears in her eyes. At first he thinks she is being silly and shouldn't take the laughter to heart, but then he recognises the laughter from the men in the pub isn't friendly. "It's not funny laughter. This is lynch mob laughter. How was ah tae know, he thinks. How the fuck was ah tae know?"
Section 6: Home
Easy Money for the Professionals – Narrated by Spud. Spud, Begbie, and a teenager have engaged in a criminal robbery. Spud recounts the crime and comments on Begbie's paranoia and how the teenager is likely to get ripped off by the pair.
A Present – Narrated by Renton. Gav tells Renton the story of how Matty died of toxoplasmosis after attempting to rekindle his relationship with his ex using a kitten (a scene re-created for Tommy's funeral in the film version).
Memories of Matty - Third person narration. The group attends Matty's funeral, where they reflect on his downfall and what may have caused it.
Straight Dilemmas No. 1 – Narrated by Renton. Renton finds himself at a small gathering in a London flat surrounded by casual drug users. While the others at the party indulge in joints containing opium and try to berate Renton as a 'suit and tie' light-weight, Renton muses on the idea that they have no clue what true drug addiction entails.
Eating Out – Narrated by Kelly. Kelly is working as a waitress in an Edinburgh restaurant and gets revenge on some unpleasant customers.
Trainspotting at Leith Central Station – Narrated by Renton. Renton returns to Leith for Christmas. He helps an inebriated Second Prize into a taxi after he takes a swing at him, presumably because of Renton introducing Tommy, who now has HIV, to heroin. He meets Begbie, who beats up an innocent man after having seen his alcoholic father in the disused Leith Central railway station.
A Leg-Over Situation – Narrated by Renton. Renton goes to see a previous drug dealer, Johnny Swann, who has had his leg amputated due to heroin use.
Winter in West Granton – Narrated by Renton. Renton goes to visit Tommy, who is dying of AIDS.
A Scottish Soldier – Third-person narration. Johnny Swann is reduced to begging, pretending to be a soldier who lost his leg in the Falklands War. Swann is quite optimistic and exclaims that he is making more money begging rather than dealing heroin.
Section 7: Exit
Station to Station – Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie, Spud and Second Prize go to London to engage in a low-key heroin deal and see a Pogues gig. The book ends with Renton stealing the cash and going to Amsterdam. As the movie adaptation and the book sequel, Porno, both imply, Spud is compensated; in the novel, Renton thinks to himself that he will send Spud his cut, as he is the only "innocent" party.