Harry returns with a womanizing ivory hunter to win back Jane with dresses; but Tarzan survives their violent greed and saves Jane.
Harry Holt (Neil Hamilton) has organized a large hunt with the help of Martin Arlington (Paul Cavanagh), who spent the last of his money in quest of ivory. Their fifty native bearers go off with their competitors, Pierce and Van Ness. Harry plans to return to the elephant burial ground for the ivory. Approaching sacred ground, Martin kills a bearer who refused to go on. They find the dead bodies of Pierce and Van Ness. When warriors attack, Harry, Martin, and their safari run, using their rifles. While climbing the Mutia Escarpment, apes drop boulders on them, killing many. Tarzan (Johnny Weismuller) calls off the apes. He remembers Harry, and Jane (Maureen O'Sullivan) sucks the poison out of Martin's wound.
Harry shows Jane Paris dresses and allurements of civilization; but she says she is not going back. Jane changes and tells Martin, "Woman's greatest weapon is man's imagination." He kisses her. Tarzan studies the record player and Jane's new clothes, then carries her off. In the morning Jane and Tarzan say, "I love you." Jane swims nude (in the restored film) with Tarzan. After wrestling a lion, Tarzan guides them, getting an elephant to clear a trail. Jane and Tarzan play by swinging from trees. An ape keeps a rhinoceros from charging Jane and dies. Tarzan rides the rhino and stabs it. Jane escapes a leopard but in water faces a crocodile, that is wrestled by Tarzan.
When Tarzan learns that Martin wants elephants to carry ivory, he refuses to go on. Martin shoots an elephant to lead them to the burial ground, while Tarzan and Jane leave the safari. Harry and Martin order the spear-men to carry ivory, but Tarzan and Jane arrive riding on elephants. Jane warns them, and Martin agrees to give up the ivory. Jane visits her father's grave and gives Tarzan a bracelet. As Tarzan is catching a fish, Martin shoots him. Tarzan rides a hippopotamus. Then the ape Chetah carries Tarzan and takes care of him with an herb. Martin tells Jane Tarzan was attacked by a crocodile; but Chetah summons her. Suddenly attacked by natives, they use rifles and take cover among rocks. Chetah goes after Tarzan and is chased by a lion. Tarzan calls the apes and elephants. After their native guide Saidi (Nathan Curry) fails to retrieve their ammunition, the hostile natives call lions to eat him. Harry tries to save Saidi and is wounded by a spear. A lion attacks Martin. Jane makes fire to keep the lions away. Tarzan arrives, fights the natives and the lions, rescuing Jane as the elephants attack the lions. In the final scene the elephants carry the ivory back as Jane and Tarzan re-pledge their love.
Still much less inhibited by censors than later sequels, this adventure shows a woman enjoying a free and natural life with her faithful mate and protector. This innocence is contrasted to the violent greed of the ivory hunters who sacrifice all for tusks.