The film was a popular success, earning US$4,420,000 in rentals in North America during its initial theatrical release.
Dr. Strangelove is Kubrick's highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes, holding a 99% approval rating (based on 76 reviews) with an average rating of 9.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Stanley Kubrick's brilliant Cold War satire remains as funny and razor-sharp today as it was in 1964." The film also holds a score of 96 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 11 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." The film is ranked number 7 in the All-Time High Scores chart of Metacritic's Video/DVD section. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
Dr. Strangelove is on Roger Ebert's list of The Great Movies, and he described it as "arguably the best political satire of the century". One of the most celebrated of all film comedies, it is the only one that made the top 10 in the 2002 Sight & Sound directors' poll, and John Patterson of The Guardian wrote, "There had been nothing in comedy like Dr Strangelove ever before. All the gods before whom the America of the stolid, paranoid 50s had genuflected – the Bomb, the Pentagon, the National Security State, the President himself, Texan masculinity and the alleged Commie menace of water-fluoridation – went into the wood-chipper and never got the same respect ever again." It is also listed as number 26 on Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, and in 2010 it was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best films since the publication's inception in 1923. The Writers Guild of America ranked its screenplay the 12th best ever written.
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the 24th greatest comedic film of all time.