The UCI Road World Championships for women made its debut in Reims, France in 1958.
Until about 1990, the race varied in length from a low of 46.6 km in 1966 to around 72 km (30 to 50 miles). From 1991, the race length began to gradually increase, first to 79 km (Stuttgart, Germany), and then to over 100 km in 1996 (Lugano, Switzerland). The 2008 edition, held in Varese in Italy, was the longest at 138.8 km.
Due to the Summer Olympics, the Road World Championships were not held in 1984, 1988 and 1992.