Overhearing stern Uncle Daniel describe him as a "millstone", Toby Tyler runs away from his foster home to join the circus, where he soon befriends Mr. Stubbs, the frisky chimpanzee. However, the circus isn't all fun and games when the evil candy vendor, Harry Tupper, convinces Toby that Aunt Olive and Uncle Daniel don't love him or want him back. Toby resigns himself to circus life even scoring a much bigger role at the circus. When Toby realizes (with the help of Mr. Stubbs) that Harry lied to him, and that Aunt Olive and Uncle Daniel truly love him, Toby leaves the circus to go home. On the way, however, he finds that Mr. Stubbs has followed him. Deciding to take Mr. Stubbs home with him (to keep him safe,) Mr. Stubbs is chased by a hunter's dog. A hunter named Jim Weaver accidentally shoots him as Harry hauls Toby back to the circus.
Toby discovers Aunt Olive and Uncle Daniel are at the circus, with hugs all around. When Harry tries to pursue Toby, he is caught by Ben Cotter for using the sheriff's money. Ben tells Harry to leave Toby alone and stop acting unkind. Just before Toby's big performance for his family, he discovers Mr. Stubbs is still alive, having been brought back to the circus by Jim. Toby performs on horseback, only to have Mr. Stubbs join him, creating a great new act for the circus.
- Toby Tyler - Kevin Corcoran
- Harry Tupper - Bob Sweeney
- Sam Treat - Gene Sheldon
- Ben Cotter - Henry Calvin
- Colonel Sam Castle - Richard Eastham
- Jim Weaver - James Drury
- Mademoiselle Jeanette - Barbara Beaird
- Monsieur Ajax - Dennis Olivieri
- Aunt Olive - Edith Evanson
- Uncle Daniel - Tom Fadden
- Circus Cook (uncredited) - Henry Rowland
- Bit Role (uncredited) - Kermit Maynard
- Drummer (uncredited) - Jimmy MacDonald
The film stars several actors best known for their work on the two pioneering Disney television shows of the late 1950s: Kevin Corcoran (better known as Moochie) from the Spin and Marty serials on The Mickey Mouse Club, and Zorro costars Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon, who speaks in it.
The film was shot at Golden Oak Ranch in Newhall, California. Many of the Circus Wagons used in the film were originally purchased by Disney for use in Disneyland's short-lived Mickey Mouse Club Circus and were later donated to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1962.
The film aired several times on the Walt Disney anthology television series.