The player takes the role of an U.S. Army airborne ranger, dropped behind enemy lines by parachute to perform all kinds of dangerous missions. Missions vary from liberating P.O.W's to photographing experimental aircrafts. Using the mission map the player must decide the route towards the objective, which might require them to crawl through trenches, run around minefields or take out enemy soldiers and bunkers.
Airborne Ranger was one of the first games with some missions that required a stealthy approach (staying undetected until a certain time, taking out a guard and stealing an enemy uniform etc.).
Airborne Ranger can be played in practice or veteran mode. In practice mode, gameplay is limited to a single mission, while in veteran mode, a series of missions or an entire campaign is played in order to earn medals & promotions. All missions can be played on several difficulty levels.