Born in Travagliato, province of Brescia, Baresi made his professional debut during the 1977–78 season, and spent a total of 16 seasons with Internazionale, playing a total of 559 matches (including 392 Serie A matches) and scoring 13 goals. He also played for Modena in the Serie B for a couple of seasons before retiring in 1994, at the age of 36.
A long-standing nerazzurro, he also served as Internazionale captain but achieved little success at the national team level, only playing 18 matches with the Azzurri shirt, being also surpassed in notoriety by his more famous brother Franco who played for crosstown city rivals AC Milan.
After serving as head of Internazionale's club youth system, he was appointed assistant manager to new Internazionale manager José Mourinho on 2 June 2008. After Benitez was appointed he brought his own assistant coach Mauricio Pellegrino, while Baresi became a technical assistant. He returned to that position after Benitez was sacked and replaced by Leonardo. At the start of 2011–12 Serie AGian Piero Gasperini brought his own assistant coach Bruno Caneo from Genoa but he was sacked in September. Claudio Ranieri replaced Gasperini while Baresi became the assistant coach, again from the position of technical assistant.