Axel Foley grew up on the streets of Chicago with Jenny Summers and Mikey Tandino. Foley remained in Chicago to become a cop, but his friends migrated to California. They both work for Victor Maitland, who owns an art gallery. Mikey returns to Chicago to see Foley, only to be killed right in front of him by a guy named Zack. Foley, in shock and anger, journeys to California to track down his childhood friend's killer. He enlists Jenny's help, and together they begin to unravel the mystery of Mikey's death.
Beverly Hills doesn't allow unknown Chicago cops to operate on their highly manicured grounds. Two of the finest, Billy Rosewood and John Taggart are assigned to Axel and ascertain what he's up to. When Foley explains the problem to them, they become interested and begin to help him. Foley's street smarts finds its mate in Taggart who, surprisingly, understands the tricks drug dealers use to camouflage their shipments. Together, the four determine that Jenny's and Mikey's boss, Maitland, is a drug dealer using the art gallery as a front. Mikey had taken some bonds from Maitland to show Foley, so Maitland had him killed.
Axel gets to check out what Beverly Hills is like in between getting cuffed for obstructing justice. He rides a float in a homeowner's pool because he's temporarily using the home as an address. He offers his tails a food platter as he stuffs bananas in their tailpipes to keep them from following him. He enjoys laughing at multiple dogs on leashes being walked by girls scantily clad, as he drives along watching parent and child both on cell phones in a convertible. He also gets to stay in the top Beverly Hills hotel free of charge because, after all, he's with Rolling Stone Magazine, and do they have a problem renting a room to a black man? And all this while Axel gets his man.