The district dates back to the Oberamt Heidenheim, which was created at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1808 it was enlarged by merging with the Oberamt Giengen. It was converted into a district in 1934/38, and enlarged by municipalities from the Oberamt Neresheim and the Oberamt Ulm. The communal reform of 1973 left the district virtually unchanged.
The coat of arms show the colors of the Lords of Hellenstein in the left half. They ruled the city Heidenheim until 1307. The castle tower to the right symbolizes the many castles in the district. The area was split between many ruling families, who built castles for protecting their ownership.