In 1980 she joined the political party Die Grünen, today called Bündnis90/Die Grünen. From 1987 to 1991 and again from 1995-2004 she was an elected member of the City Council of the City State of Bremen. In 1991 she joined the state government as minister for Culture and the integration of immigrants.
In 2004, 2009 and 2014 she was elected Member of the European Parliament joined the political group The Greens/EFA. Since 2004 she is a vice-president of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education. Between 2004 and 2014 Helga Trüpel worked as the spokesperson for budgetary affairs of her political group. During both her first and second terms she was furthermore elected co-spokesperson of the delegation of German Greens. Helga Trüpel has been a member of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the People's Republic of China.