Originally constructed in 1958 as I-75, this was renumbered as I-275 in early 1982. Its renumbering became necessary when I-75 was re-routed onto I-640 to divert traffic from the downtown area; the remnant was designated as I-275.
In 2007, the existing cloverleaf exits (1A–B, 1C–D, 2A–B) were replaced with traditional diamond interchanges to add a continuous third lane in each direction. This was done to handle increased traffic flow for the shutdown of I-40 in downtown Knoxville that took place on May 1, 2008 . I-275 was the designated detour route for I-75 northbound traffic during the I-40 shutdown to avoid traffic congestion at the I-75/I-640/US-25W/I-275 junction as the ramp for I-75 northbound from I-640 eastbound is only one lane.