The seat was created after boundary changes in 1983, as part of an expansion of Northern Ireland's constituencies from 12 to 17, and was predominantly made up from parts of North Down. At its creation the constituency was formed from the local government district of Ards, and the Castlereagh districts of Beechill, Fourwinds, Hillfoot, Lower Braniel, Minnowburn, Moneyreagh, Newtownbreda, and Upper Braniel
In 1995, the Commission controversially recommended abolishing the constituency and dividing it between North Down and new constituencies of Mid Down, and Castlereagh and Newtownards. This was successfully opposed in local enquiries and from the 1997 general election it was made up of parts of the districts of Ards, Castlereagh and Down.
Despite the name the seat does not currently contain the town of Strangford which is instead a part of South Down.
The constituency has been represented by Unionist candidates since it was formed. There have not been significant votes for parties outside the traditional unionist block, although as the Alliance has saved its deposit in every election.