Preiļi is one of the oldest settlements in Latvia. It was first mentioned in written sources in 1250. By 1897 Preiļi had a population of 2104. Preiļi has had city rights since 1928. By 1935 there were 1662 people living in Preiļi of whom 50.97% were Jews. After World War II there were less than 1000 people living in Preiļi. During the Soviet era many workers from Russia and Belarus started working in Preiļi and the population reached a peak of 9421 in 1989.