Bouches-du-Rhône is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was made with part of the old province of Provence and was divided in six districts: Tarascon, Apt, Aix, Marseille, Salon and Arles, with Aix as is capital.
In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the six districts were changed into three arrondissements: Marseille, Aix and Tarascon. The prefecture was moved from Aix to Marseille.
After the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), the department was occupied by the Austrian army from June 1815 to November 1818.
In 1817, the subprefecture of Tarascon was moved to Arles. The arrondissement of Istres was created in 1981.