The club was founded in 1937 and was originally based in Orlando, Soweto. They are named ‘Pirates’ after the 1940 film The Sea Hawk starring Errol Flynn. Orlando Pirates is the first club since the inception of the Premier Soccer League in 1996 to have won three major trophies in a single season back to back, having won the domestic league ABSA Premiership, the FA Cup Nedbank Cup and the Top 8 Cup MTN 8 during the ABSA Premiership 2010–11 season and domestic league ABSA Premiership, the League Cup Telkom Knockout and the Top 8 Cup MTN 8 during the ABSA Premiership 2011–12 season.
Orlando Pirates drew an average home attendance of 14,533 in the 2016-17 domestic league season. It became the second highest in the league. One of their biggest rivalries besides the one with Kaizer Chiefs is the rivalry with Moroka Swallows.