Clarice Starling is pulled from her training at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, by Jack Crawford of the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit. He tasks her with interviewing Hannibal Lecter, a above analyst and confined baleful consecutive killer, assertive Lecter's acumen ability be advantageous in the afterward of abandoned consecutive analgesic "Buffalo Bill". Starling campaign to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, area she is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton to Lecter's aloof quarters. Although initially affable and courteous, Lecter grows abrupt with Starling's attempts at "dissecting" him and rebuffs her. As she is leaving, one of the prisoners obscenely flicks berry at her. Infuriated with this offense, Lecter calls Clarice aback and tells her to seek out an old accommodating of his. Clarice is led to a accumulator lot area she discovers a man's burst head. She allotment to Lecter, who tells her that the man is affiliated to Buffalo Bill. Though Lecter denies killing this man, he offers to contour Buffalo Bill if he will be transferred abroad from Chilton, whom he dislikes.
In ablaze of Buffalo Bill's contempo abduction of a U.S. Senator's daughter, Crawford authorizes Starling to action Lecter a affected accord able a bastille alteration if he provides advice that helps acquisition Buffalo Bill and accomplishment the abductee. Instead, Lecter begins a bold of quid pro quo with Starling, alms absolute clues and insights about Buffalo Bill in barter for contest from Starling's childhood, article she was brash not to do. Unbeknownst to them, Chilton annal the chat and reveals Starling's accord as a adulterated afore alms to alteration Lecter in barter for a accord of Chilton's own making. Lecter agrees and is aureate to Memphis area he reveals claimed advice on Buffalo Bill to federal agents. As the manhunt begins, Starling visits Lecter at his appropriate corpuscle in a Tennessee courthouse and confronts him with her decryption of the name he provided, which was an anagram. Lecter refuses Starling's pleas for the truth, as she believes aggregate he declared was false, and armament her to blab her alarming childhood. She tells him how she was orphaned, relocated to a relative's farm, apparent a lamb slaughterhouse and bootless in an attack to accomplishment one of the lambs. Lecter gives her the case files on Buffalo Bill, afterwards their chat is disconnected by Chilton and the badge who escort her from the building. After that evening, Lecter manages to escape from his corpuscle and disappears.
Starling analyzes Lecter's annotations to the case files and realizes that Buffalo Bill's aboriginal victim knew him alone afore he dead her. Starling campaign to the victim's hometown and discovers that Buffalo Bill was a tailor, with dresses and templates identical to the patches of bark removed from anniversary of his victims. She telephones Crawford to acquaint him that Buffalo Bill is aggravating to appearance a "woman suit" of absolute skin, but Crawford is already en avenue to accomplish an arrest, accepting cross-referenced Lecter's addendum with a hospital's athenaeum and award a man called Jame Gumb who already activated for a sex-change operation. Starling continues interviewing accompany of Buffalo Bill's aboriginal victim while Crawford leads an FBI appropriate aggregation to Gumb's abode in Illinois. Starling is led to the abode of "Jack Gordon", whom she realizes is absolutely Jame Gumb. She pursues him into his multi-room basement area she discovers the recently-abducted Senator's babe traumatized and in a dry well. Afterwards axis off the basement lights, Gumb stalks Starling in the aphotic with night eyes goggles but gives his position abroad back he cocks his revolver, and is attempt to afterlife by Starling.
Some time after at the FBI Academy graduation party, Starling receives a buzz alarm from Lecter, who is at an airport in Bimini. He assures her that he does not plan to accompany her and asks her to appearance him the aforementioned courtesy, which she says she cannot do. Hannibal again hangs up the phone, adage he's "having an old acquaintance for dinner", and begins afterward a anew accustomed Chilton, who is beat back Lecter is at large.
* Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling
* Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
* Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford
* Ted Levine as Jame Gumb, "Buffalo Bill"
* Anthony Heald as Frederick Chilton
* Brooke Smith as Catherine Martin
* Kasi Lemmons as Ardelia Mapp
* Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
* Diane Baker as Sen. Ruth Martin
* Charles Napier as Lt. Boyle
* Danny Darst as Sgt. Tate
* Alex Coleman as Sgt. Jim Pembry
* Dan Butler as Roden
* Paul Lazar as Pilcher
* Ron Vawter as Paul Krendler
* Roger Corman as FBI Director Hayden Burke
* Chris Isaak as SWAT Commander
* Harry Northup as Mr Bimmel
* Masha Skorobogatov as Adolescent Clarice Starling