The region became a part of Bavaria in the late 12th century, when the line of the counts of Regensburg and Stefling came to an end. While Regensburg became a Free Imperial City (meaning subordinate to the emperor only), the surrounding lands were Bavarian property.
While the district dates back to medieval times, its present shape was established in 1972.
The district is located on either side of the Danube. Another major river is the Regen which joins the Danube in Regensburg. In its northernmost parts the district is occupied by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest.