KV Mechelen was founded in 1904 and, in 1921–22, promoted to the first division. After two successive relegation and promotion, they were back for good between 1928–29 and 1955–56. In the 1960s and 1970s, the club had several promotions and relegations between the first and second division. From 1983–84 to 1996–97, they had a successful first division spell, with a title and several 2nd and 3rd-place finishes. During that period, they also won a European Cup Winners' Cup and they reached the same competition semi-finals as well as the European Cup quarter finals. KV Mechelen eventually declined in the late 1990s, though they had two more spells at the highest level from 1999–00 to 2000–01 and in 2002–03. At the end of that season, the club did not receive their Belgian professional football license, and so they were relegated to the third division with a 9-point penalty. After two promotions in 2004–05 and in 2006–07, KV Mechelen has come back to the first division.
The club outfits are a striped yellow and red shirt with black shorts and socks. They play their home matches at the Argosstadion Achter de Kazerne, where Argos is their stadium sponsor and Achter de Kazerne means 'Behind the Barracks'. The stadium has been named so because there used to be barracks next to stadium. KV Mechelen fans have a long-standing rivalry with KRC Mechelen.
The club was founded in 1904, a few months after the birth of city rival KRC Mechelen. The club had a first successful period in the 1940s. During World War II, in 1943, the club won their first domestic title. The second title came a few years later, in 1946, and in 1948 the club was successful again. After that, the club fell back. In 1954, they managed to finish third, only one point behind champions Anderlecht, but that was their last good season. Two years later, Mechelen was relegated to second division. During the 1960s and the 1970s, Mechelen went up and down between the first and second division.
The club enjoyed a spell of both domestic and European success in the period of 1987–92. During these 5 seasons, Mechelen won one Belgian championship and one Belgian cup title. They also finished 2nd in the Belgian league twice and lost the Belgian cup final twice. After winning the domestic cup title in 1987, and hence qualifying for the European Cup Winners' Cup, they completed the extraordinary achievement of winning this tournament in 1988. Mechelen are the last Belgian team that has won a European trophy.
KV Mechelen seemed to be on its way to becoming one of the top clubs in Belgium, but quickly declined when their chairman Cordier (who owned the rights to most of their players) was forced to sell many players due to his company's bad results. On 10 June 2007, the team achieved promotion to the Belgian First Division. Two years later in 2009, KV Mechelen played the final of the Belgian Cup, losing it 2–0 to KRC Genk. One year after that, they stranded in the semi-finals with a 2–2 draw and a 1–0 loss against KAA Gent. After a successful 2010 and four seasons for the yellow reds, coach Peter Maes decided to leave Malinwa and signed a four-year contract with Sporting Lokeren. Malinwa made a deal with Marc Brys to take over from Maes. Marc Brys was coach of FC Den Bosch, a second division team in the Netherlands. After two seasons he was sacked and Harm Van Veldhoven was appointed for the 2012–13 season. Van Veldhoven also could not lead KV Mechelen to Play-off 1, the clubs' recent unspoken ambition. He was fired in December 2013. At the end of the 2013–14 season KV Mechelen appointed Aleksandar Janković as head coach.