An old legend of the West is that of the Ghost Rider. Supposedly, when someone sold their sold to the devil, they would be transformed into the Ghost Rider, the devil's bounty hunter. The devil's most recent Ghost Rider was around 150 years ago, but disobeyed the devil by refusing to bring him the contract of San Venganza, which would give him the power of 1000 souls.
In the present, a stunt rider called Barton Blaze and his son Johnny Blaze are carnival daredevils. Johnny is currently dating a young girl his age named Roxanne Simpson. After a show one day, Johnny goes home to find that his father is dying of cancer. That night, a mysterious man appears, and claims that he can cure Johnny's cancer, in return for Johnny's soul. Thinking it's a joke, Johnny agrees. The next day, Johnny's father is healthy once more, but during the performance that day, Johnny's father dies in an accident. Johnny finds the mysterious man who he made the deal with, and claims he's cheated on their deal, but the mysterious man points out that he saved him from the cancer as promised. He says that one day he'll come back to make sure Johnny fulfils his end of the deal.
About ten years later, Johnny is a famous stunt rider, who is famous for surviving incredibly unbelievable feats. Just before he jumps a football pitch, Johnny bumps into Roxanne Simpson again, who is now a reporter. After the show, Johnny follows Roxanne and asks her out on a date. Roxanne reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, the demon Blackheart is on Earth, looking for the contract of San Venganza. He enlists the aid of three demons named Gressil, Abigor, and Wallow, who represent the elements of earth, air and water respectively. The mysterious man who made the deal with Johnny is revealed to be Mephistopholes (shortened to Mephisto), Blackheart's father and a high-ranking demon. Mephisto wants the contract of San Vanganza for himself, so calls on Johnny to fulfil his end of the deal.
Johnny is turned into the latest Ghost Rider, and is sent to stop Blackheart. Blackheart, Gressil, Abigor and Wallow are at a trainyard where a graveyard used to be which held the contract of San Venganza. Ghost Rider appears, and manages to use a nearby chain to kill Gressil, although Blackheart, Abigor and Wallow escape. After the fight, Ghost Rider keeps the chain, and keeps riding. He saves a civilian from a mugger, and uses his patented Penance Stare for the first time.
The next morning, Johnny wakes up in the cemetary of a church. There, a mysterious old man tells Johnny about his curse, and a bit about how to control it. Johnny also goes home and reads a few books on how he can control it. Roxanne arrives, thinking Johnny stood her up on their date. Johnny tries to explain to Roxanne about how he turned into Ghost Rider, but she naturally doesn't believe him.
Johnny is then arrested by the police, believed to be connected to the murder at the trainyard. The police take him into a cell, where Johnny turns into Ghost Rider. He then attempts to find Blackheart, but Blackheart sends Abigor to delay him. Ghost Rider chases Abigor to the top of a building, and manages to use his chains to suck him up. While Ghost Rider is chasing Abigor, Roxanne sees him and realises Johnny was telling the truth. Roxanne is part of a crowd which watches Ghost Rider leave, and Blackheart realises she is Ghost Rider's weakness.
The next day, Johnny returns to his apartment to find that Roxanne is held captive by Blackheart and he will kill her if he doesn't get the contract of San Venganza. Johnny tries the Penance Stare on Blackheart, but it doesn't work as Blackheart has no soul.
Johnny then goes to the caretaker at the cemetary, who reveals that he was Carter Slade, the last Ghost Rider, and the one who has hidden the contract all these years. Carter gives Johnny the contract, which is hidden in his hollowed-out spade. Carter can turn into Ghost Rider one last time, and rides with Johnny to the town of San Venganza. He gives Johnny a shotgun then leaves.
Johnny approaches the town, but is ambushed by Wallow. Fortunately, he is killed by Ghost Rider's hellfire, allowing him to continue on his way. Inside the town, Johnny gives the contract to Blackheart, who then attempts to kill Ghost Rider. Johnny manages to turn the shotgun Carter gave him into a "hellfire shotgun", but it still isn't enough to kill Blackheart. Johnny then attempts a Penance Stare, which works this time as Blackheart has 1000 souls in him.
Mephisto then tells Johnny that he has kept his side of the bargain, and is free to go. Johnny decides that he wants to keep the Ghost Rider curse so that he can use it for good.
The film ends on Johnny and Roxanne kissing at a tree where they carved their initials when they were younger.