Two high school seniors, Buzz and Rick, race along a desolate stretch of Texas highway, en route to the Texas-OU football game at the Dallas Cotton Bowl. Heavily intoxicated, they use their car phone to call and harass on-air radio DJ Vanita "Stretch" Brock. Unable to convince them to hang up, Stretch is forced to keep the line open. While passing a pickup truck, Leatherface emerges from the back of the truck and rips up the roof using his chainsaw. Rick tries shooting Leatherface with his revolver but Leatherface kills Buzz, causing the car to crash, killing Rick.
The following morning, Lieutenant Boude "Lefty" Enright, former Texas Ranger, and uncle of Sally and Franklin Hardesty, who were victims of Leatherface and his family years earlier, arrives at the scene of the crime to help solve Buzz and Rick's murders. Lefty has spent the last thirteen years looking into his nephew's disappearance, investigating reports of mysterious chainsaw killings across Texas. He is contacted by Stretch, who brings him a copy of the audio tape that recorded the attack. He sends her away, leaving Stretch and JB to reluctantly get radio coverage of a Texas/Oklahoma Chili Cookoff. The winner happens to be Drayton Sawyer (current patriarch of the cannibalistic Sawyer family), who declares that his secret is having an eye for "prime meat."
Meanwhile, Lefty shops for an arsenal of chainsaws at a local hardware store. He at first unnerves, then amuses the shop's owner with his brutal testing of the saws on a log. Lefty then drives to Stretch's radio station and asks her to play the tape on her nightly radio show so that the public, which had previously mocked his case, will have to listen to him.
Drayton, driving home from his chili cookoff victory, demands that his family go to the radio station, prompted by the nightly radio broadcast of the tape. While preparing to leave for the night, Stretch is confronted by Bobby "Chop Top" Sawyer before being attacked by Leatherface. Her coworker L.G. Peters is apparently killed by Chop Top. Leatherface corners Stretch and is about to kill her, but she charms him into sparing her. Leatherface returns to Chop Top and leads him to believe that he has killed Stretch. They then take L.G. to their home, followed by Stretch, who becomes trapped inside the Sawyer home, an abandoned carnival ground decorated with human bones, multi-colored lights, and carnival remnants.
Lefty, who has been following their car all along, arrives equipped with chainsaws and trashes the home before he finds Franklin's remains. Meanwhile, Stretch is found by Leatherface, who puts L.G.'s skinned face and hat on her before tying her arms and leaving. Later, L.G. is still alive and frees Stretch before dying. Drayton finds Stretch and the family capture her. Chop Top scolds Leatherface when he finds out that Stretch is still alive. They torture her at the dinner table, but Lefty arrives and saves her. Stretch flees the ground, but Chop Top chases her. Lefty wounds Drayton. Lefty and Leatherface get into a chainsaw fight, and Leatherface is fatally wounded. The dying Drayton, accepting that he and his family have lost, takes a grenade from Nubbins' corpse and blows up the ground, killing himself, Lefty, Leatherface and Grandpa.
Chop Top chases Stretch to the top of a rock tower. Stretch grabs a chainsaw held by the corpse of the family's grandmother in a shrine and fatally wounds Chop Top, causing him to fall off the tower to his death. Stretch shouts in triumph and swings the chainsaw in the air.
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