The film was produced by Hyperion Pictures along with The Kushner-Locke Company. and it was co-production by Fine Arts Films. Many of the original members of Pixar Animation Studios were involved with this film, including John Lasseter and Joe Ranft. While the film received a limited theatrical release, The Brave Little Toaster was popular on home video and was followed by two sequels a decade later. (The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue)
Toaster is a toaster and leader of a group of appliances consisting of a radio, Radio; a lamp, Lampy; an electric blanket, Blanky; and a vacuum cleaner, Kirby who belong to their master Rob. They wait every day at Rob's log cabin for his return with an increasing sense of abandonment. The appliances are devastated to learn that a real estate broker is selling the house. Unable to accept that the Master would abandon them, Toaster decides that the group should head out and find Rob. The appliances connect a car battery to an office chair pulled by Kirby and set out into the world, following the Radio's signal broadcasted from the city, where Rob lives.
On their journey, the appliances encounter numerous harrowing adventures where they slowly learn to work together. Shortly after stopping to rest within a forest, a violent storm during nightfall wakes Toaster and the others and blows Blanky up into the trees, and Lampy risks her life by using herself as a lightning rod in an attempt to recharge the group's dead battery. After recovering Blanky, the group tries to cross a waterfall, only to have everyone fall in except for Kirby, who then dives after them and rescues them, and the appliances wash up into the middle of a swamp. After losing both the chair and the battery, the group resorts to pulling Kirby through the swamp. After almost drowning in quicksand, they are rescued by Elmo St. Peters, the owner of an appliance parts store where they meet a group of partially dismantled or disfigured appliances, who have lost hope and await being disassembled and sold. When Radio is taken from the shelf and about to have his radio tubes extracted, the appliances distract St. Peters and flee to the city.
Rob, who is now living in an apartment as a young adult and is about to depart for college, leaves with his girlfriend Chris to return to the cabin and retrieve the appliances to take with him. The modern electronics in the apartment become resentful. When the appliances arrive at Rob's apartment, the modern appliances convince them that they are outdated and unusable, tossing them into a dumpster, where they are shortly transported to Ernie's Disposal, a junkyard. Thinking that his original appliances have been stolen, Rob and Chris return to his apartment, where his black and white television, who originally lived with the appliances, broadcasts false advertisements and encourages Rob and Chris to look at Ernie's Disposal for replacements.
At the junkyard, the appliances go into depression and wait for the magnetic crane that picks up junk and places it on a conveyor belt that leads into a car crusher. When they discover that Rob is in the junkyard, they are encouraged and attempt to foil the magnetic crane in order to allow Rob to find them. After being foiled numerous times, the magnetic crane picks up Rob himself as well as the appliances, except for Toaster, and drops them on the compactor's conveyor belt. Toaster sacrifices herself by leaping into the compactor's drive gears to disable the machine in time from destroying the appliances and killing Rob. Rob returns to the apartment with all of the appliances in tow, including a now-mangled Toaster. Rob repairs the Toaster and takes all of them to college with him.
- Deanna Oliver as Toaster, a gallant sunbeam toaster and inspiring leader of the five appliances. Jerry Rees, the film's director, called the character "warm enough to put up with everyone else. And the other characters seeing themselves reflected in her surface, feel an immediate kinship."
- Timothy E. Day as Blanky, an electric blanket with an innocent, child-like demeanor. He also voices the child Rob in the flashbacks.
- Lily Tomlin as Lampy, an easily-impressed yet slightly irascible gooseneck desk lamp, who "thought she was bright, but she could be pretty dim sometimes."
- Jon Lovitz as Radio, a vacuum tube-based Bakelite dial radio whose personality parodies loud and pretentious radio announcers. Rees performed Radio's singing voice, as Lovitz was working on Saturday Night Live at the time.
- Thurl Ravenscroft as Kirby, a very low-pitched, individualistic upright Kirby Dual Sanitronic 80 vacuum cleaner who dons a cynical, cantankerous attitude towards the other appliances.
- Wayne Kaatz as Rob ("The Master"), the original human owner of the five appliances. Appearing as a child in flashbacks, Rob, now an adult, is leaving for college.
- Phil Hartman as Air Conditioner, who resides in the cabin with the five appliances. He loses his temper while arguing with the appliances and explodes, and is repaired by Rob near the end of the film.
- Hartman, doing an impression of Peter Lorre, also voiced Hanging Lamp in the appliance parts store.
- Joe Ranft as Elmo St. Peters, an owner of a spare parts shop, where he disassembles broken machines and sells the pieces.
- Colette Savage as Chris, Rob's tomboyish girlfriend.
- Jim Jackman as Plugsy, a table lamp who leads the modern machines, who reside in Rob's apartment. While they were benevolent in the original novel, here they are jealous and antagonistic towards the main characters.
- Jonathan Benair as Black and White TV, a black and white television who lives in Rob's apartment and is an old friend of the five appliances.
- Judy Toll as Mish-Mash, a mutated can opener, lamp, and electric shaver appliance. She also voices Megaphone in the appliance parts store.
- Mindy Sterling as Rob's mother. She also voices Two-Face Sewing Machine in Rob's apartment.
- Randall William Cook as Entertainment Center in Rob's apartment.
- Randy Bennett as Computer in Rob's apartment.
- Louis Conti as the TV Announcer when Black and White TV is changed to a spanish station.
- Frank Welker as Quadruped, Elmo's pet dog.