On the mean streets of New York City, two gangs are in a long-lasting duel. The Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang, grapple with the difficulties of assimilating into American society. The Jets, the "American" gang, want to resist newcomers entering their territory. In the midst of this rivalry, a Jet, Tony, falls in love with a beautiful Sharks' girl, Maria. After a fight between the Jets and the Sharks, Tony ends up killing Maria's brother, Bernardo. Bitter over losing Maria's love and the death of Bernardo, Maria's Puerto Rican suitor, Chino, shoots Tony dead. Dancing in the show requires jazz, ballet and athleticism.