It was founded in 1877 under the name Il Telegrafo, with a moderate centrist political line. During the fascist regime, it was owned by the Ciano family. Following the Liberation, it was replaced in 1945 by Il Tirreno, and switched to a left-wing policy. From 1957 to 1976 it was known again as Il Telegrafo, but then resumed using its current name. It is currently owned by the media company Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso.
Between 1998 and 2001 Il Tirreno had a 21% share of the Italian language newspaper market in Tuscany. The circulation of the paper was 80,832 copies in 2008.