In the last days of the Neanderthals, a young Cro-Magnon Ayla (Daryl Hannah) is orphaned when her mother dies in an earthquake. Alone and hungry, Ayla wanders the land and is discovered by Iza, a medicine woman from the Clan of the Cave Bear. Iza convinces her leaders to let Ayla stay with them, although tradition dictates that the clan kill the outsider immediately. Blonde and blue-eyed, Ayla is distinctly different from her adoptive tribe of cave dwellers and is viewed with suspicion. As a woman and one of the "others", she must fight for her survival, respect, and finally acceptance from the clan.