Basketball at the 1956 Summer Olympics was the fourth appearance of the sport in Olympic competition. Fifteen nations, an unusually low number for the basketball tournament, competed in the event, with 174 participants. A total number of 56 games of basketball were played.
The teams were divided into four pools, with four teams in three of the pools and only three in the fourth. Every team played against each other team in its pool once. The top two teams from each pool advanced to the quarterfinals, where again they were split into pools of four. Teams again played every other team in their pool, with the top two in each advancing to the semifinal and the bottom two entering a pool for 5th through 8th places. Eliminated teams also played in consolation matches with the same structure as the quarterfinals and finals, but for 9th through 15th places. The games were held at the Royal Exhibition Building.