Released during the alternative rock and grunge-era, the album brought the band small success in Southern California as The Offspring started to gather a following. This success would continue to grow with their next album Smash. "Kick Him When He's Down" was released as a promotional single in 1995 after the band had risen in popularity; it is one of the few singles that did not appear on the Greatest Hits album. "Dirty Magic", the sixth track from Ignition, was re-recorded for their ninth studio album, 2012's Days Go By. The albums title comes from a lyric in "Burn It Up"
In 1991, The Offspring teamed up with producer Thom Wilson to record the Baghdad 7" EP. This EP was instrumental to the band's signing with Epitaph Records. Wilson had been trying to get The Offspring to switch to Epitaph, a label run by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. Gurewitz felt that The Offspring was just not quite pronounced enough for his label, but Baghdad convinced him to give the band a shot. Thanks to the success of Baghdad, The Offspring managed to record their second full-length album. The band entered two recording studios, Westbeach Recorders and Track Record, in June 1992 to record Ignition, in a similar fashion to the production schedule for The Offspring and Baghdad, which were both recorded in just one month (March 1989 and February 1991 respectively).
Some of the material ("Take It Like a Man", which was originally recorded in 1991 for a Flipside magazine compilation, The Big One, and "Get It Right", which appeared on Baghdad) are updated versions of songs that were recorded around The Offspring/Baghdad-era. The album also had one outtake, "Mission from God", which was released on the compilation album Punk-O-Rama Vol. 10 in 2005.
Ignition was released through Epitaph Records on October 16, 1992. Like their self-titled debut album, Ignition did not chart on the Billboard 200; however, The Offspring began to gather small success in the Southern region of California, mainly the areas of San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles, and spent a-year-and-a-half touring relentlessly behind the album. Although no videos were released for Ignition, "Kick Him When He's Down" was released as an airplay-only single in 1995. Ignition was certified Gold on January 22, 1996, nearly two years after the release of Smash.
The album has received generally favorable reviews in the years since its initial release, with several reviewers having deemed Ignition one of The Offspring's best albums. In October 2011, the album was ranked number two (between Alice in Chains' Dirt and Bad Religion's Generator) on Guitar World magazine's top ten list of guitar albums of 1992. Punknews.org rated the album 5 stars out of 5, stating, "Every song is a winner on this disc, no fillers..."
On June 17, 2008, Epitaph re-released Ignition (along with Smash) in remastered form. This reissue was released on the same day as then-current album Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace.