After travelling to 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, 67th Venice International Film Festival in September 2010 and International Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), at its New York premiere on 24 August 2011, at the Asia Society, director Anurag Kashyap said, "I hope you feel the film, because you will not enjoy it." The film's commercial release, however, took over a year as it was delayed to coincide with its US release to avoid internet piracy. Indian distributors were not keen on the film, as without big Bollywood stars they did not find it viable for an international release; they mainly cater to an NRI (Non-resident Indian) audience. Finally US based-distributor IndiePix Films came on board for paving the way for a US release with 30 prints, all in non-NRI theatres, a rare feat for a Bollywood film. Meanwhile, the film was also sold in Scandinavian countries, Turkey, Southern Europe, and New Zealand. Its satellite rights were sold in many countries. The film thus became Kashyap's first worldwide release, as it was released in 40 US theatres on 2 September by IndiePix Films, on the same day of its India release. Previously, after its showing at the London Indian Film Festival, Britain-based Mara Pictures picked up the film there for UK release in last quarter of 2011. Kashyap later told BBC News that he received a negative backlash from financial backers because of the film's sexual content: "A lot of people involved with the film were embarrassed about the film. A lot of people we thanked in the film who actually lent us money, they said, 'Please take our names from the film,' because they don't want somebody to see and say 'You gave the money to make this film!'"
Prior to its India release, the first look of the film was unveiled to the press on 11 August 2011. MTV India started a "That Girl with Yellow Boots contest" asking for audition tapes from aspiring actors, the winner of which would act in future Anurag Kashyap's films. In the run up to the film, its lead Kalki Koechlin appeared at an event, colour-coordinated, complete with yellow boots.
The film opened to mostly positive reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-times gave it 3.5 out of the 4 stars, and he also noted that ' The film's value is in its portrait of Ruth, and her independence as a solo outsider in a vast, uncaring city. ' In his Huffington Post review, Kia Makarechi wrote, "an unnervingly realistic portrait of unimaginable pain – is one with an ending you'll wish you could forget." Nupur Barua of fullhyd.com rated it 7 out of 10, and said that besides the Kashyap-esque tone of despair and melancholy, That Girl in Yellow Boots is Anurag Kashyap's best till date, adding that you can watch it "only if you can handle the unspeakable". Parmita Borah, on EF News International, wrote, "Kalki Koechlin carries That Girl in Yellow Boots on her shoulders and does so with great panache and élan." Shivesh Kumar of IndiaWeekly awarded the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars.