Adolf Gundersen was born in the parish of Åsnes in the traditional region of Solør in the county of Hedmark, Norway. He received his professional training in Norway and graduated from the Royal University of Oslo in 1890.
Gundersen came to La Crosse, Wisconsin to join the medical practice of Christian Christianson. In 1893, he married Helga Sara Isaksetre (1867–1951), with whom he had eight children.  Four of the sons, Gunnar, Alf, Sigurd B. Sr. and Thorolf, joined their father in his first clinic, which opened in 1930 on the outskirts of the city. In 1944, Gundersen's physician sons created Gundersen Medical Foundation (now known as Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation). His eldest son, Borge, was in charge of Røisen, the Gundersen estate in Solør, Norway. 
Gundersen received the Knighthood of Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olaf, first rank, from King Haakon of Norway in 1926. He was made an honorary member of The Medical Society of Oslo in 1933. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and in the Scandinavian Surgical Society, an honorary member of the Christiania Surgical Society. He was also a Regent of the University of Wisconsin System.
Adolf Gundersen is quoted as saying:
Achieving the finest patient care requires continuous effort and study by individuals devoted to the advancement of medical science and practice.— Adolf Gundersen, MD. 1923, 
- Adolf Gundersen (Store norske leksikon)
- Adolf Gundersen inducted into Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame (La Crosse Tribune)
- A Tribute to Helga Sara Isaksetre Teressa Gundersen (Helga Gundersen Memorial Bunad Show. Signe Gundersen Schroeder. April 2007)
- Hedmark. Åsnes herad. Røisen (Matrikkelutkastet av 1950)
- "Physician is father of family of doctors", Milwaukee Journal. May 4, 1930.
- "The Gundersen Brothers and the Growth of the Gundersen Clinic", Massachusetts General Hospital Surgical Society, vol. 6, no. 2 (Fall 2005).
- "Wisconsin Scandinavian Obituaries", The Whitehall Times, September 22, 1938.
- Gundersen Lutheran Health Plan (January 1, 2009)
- Bergland, Betty A.; Lori Ann Lahlum (2011) Norwegian American Women: Migration, Communities, and Identities (Minnesota Historical Society) ISBN 978-0873518208
- Hessel, Susan T. (1991) Medicine, the Gundersen experience, 1891-1991 (Gundersen Clinic, La Crosse, Wisconsin) ISBN 978-0941187503
- Midelfort, H. Christine A Norwegian Immigrant's Accommodation To America: The Early Letters of Dr. Adolf Gundersen (Peninsula Nordic Study Circle Lecture Series. 2005-2006)
- Orgensen, Ole Adolf Gundersen og hans sønner" (Nordmanns-Forbundet, 1982, 90-93)
- Strand, A. E. (1905) A History of the Norwegians of Illinois (Chicago: John Anderson Publishing Company)