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Pericles correctly guesses that the daughter of Antiochus is involved in an incestuous affair with her father. Antiochus knows that Pericles knows, and Pericles knows it. His life in peril, Pericles prudently flees Antioch for Tyre. Antiochus won't let mere distance stand in the way of killing him, however; Pericles appoints his counselor Helicanus to rule as regent and then sails from Tyre for Tarsus, then Pentapolis. On the way, the vessel is shipwrecked, and Pericles is the sole survivor.

At Pentapolis, Pericles participates in a tournament for the hand of Thaisa, daughter of Simonides. He wins the tournament, the two fall in love, and Pericles marries Thaisa. In the meantime, news arrives that Antiochus is dead and that the people of Tyre want their prince back. Pericles makes arrangements to sail for Tyre with Thaisa, who is now pregnant with their child. A storm along the way brings about the birth of Marina, their daughter; Thaisa, tragically, is believed to die in childbirth. Sealing her in a watertight coffin, Pericles gives her a burial at sea. The coffin washes up on the shores of Ephesus, where Cerimon manages to revive Thaisa. Unsurprisingly, Thaisa assumes that Pericles is lost at sea and promptly becomes a votaress in the Temple of Diana.

On the way back to Tyre, Pericles leaves Marina at Tarsus for Cleon and his wife to raise. Pericles sails on for Tyre. Fast forward sixteen years, and a beautiful Marina has inspired the jealousy of Dionyza, who resolves to have her murdered. Dionyza's servant, who is entrusted with the job, cannot carry it out when Marina is captured by pirates; the servant reports back that Marina is dead, and Cleon mournfully raises a monument to her memory. Pericles encounters the tomb on a visit to Tarsus and falls into a deep despair. The pirates, meanwhile, sell Marina into a brothel in Mitylene, but she is soon freed by the governor.

Pericles sails into Mitylene still deeply depressed about the supposed loss of his daughter. While there, he encounters Marina, and after some talking, Pericles eventually recognizes her for his daughter; the two are happily reunited. Lysismachus, the governor, asks for Marina's hand, which Marina accepts. Then, Pericles is visited by a dream that instructs him to visit Ephesus. There he is reunited as well with Thaisa (who is now the head priestess of Diana), and the whole family is together again.

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