The club was known as workers' club. The club had a strong fanbase in the Split's shipyard. The club was found 16 April 1912 as Anarch, but has had several names Borac, Jug, HAŠK, Dalmatinac, and Arsenal.
During the Spanish Civil War, RNK Split organized an unsuccessful expedition of his volunteers for the fight on the side of the anti-fascist coalition against Francisco Franco's forces.
After achieving four consecutive promotions, the club went from playing in Croatia's fourth tier to playing in the Prva HNL, Croatia's top division. In the team's first season in the top flight in the 2010-11 season, they achieved a very respectable third spot, just two points behind powerhouses and local rivals HNK Hajduk Split. Because of its finish that season, they qualified to play for Europe for the first time in the club's existence and entered directly into the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round were they met Slovenian side NK Domžale. They won 5-2 on aggregate and in the third qualifying round they were drawn against Premier League side Fulham, whom they lost to 2-0 on aggregate.
Found as HRŠD "Anarch" first colors were black (the color of Anarchists), HRŠD stands for Hrvatsko radničko športsko društvo, "Croatian Workmens' Sport Society". As influence of "red" (organized labour, Social democrat and Communist) youth got stronger in 1933 the club has changed its colors to all red and its name to RNK Split, Radnički nogometni klub, "Workmens' Football Club". During SFR Yugoslavia RNK Split played four times in the top football division, without winning a Championship or Cup title. The biggest success in ex-Yugoslav Cup was in the season of 1960–61, when they lost in the semifinals against Macedonian squad Vardar in the game on Vardar's home stadium.