Lisa Goodman and her friend Ingrid, the daughter of her family maid, are running around a shopping mall. They're unaware that two men, Molenski and Delaney, are following them. They have a description of Lisa's coat and prepare to capture her. However, they briefly lose sight of the girls when they go into a clothing store. Lisa tries on a jacket and gives hers to Ingrid to hold. When they come out of the store, the men abduct Ingrid and lock Lisa in a storage closet.
At home, Lisa's father Eric is on the phone negotiating a corporate takeover when his aide Neil arrives with a package. Inside the box are Lisa's coat and a ransom note telling Eric to wait for instructions. Eric calls family friend MacGyver and asks him to help, and then starts liquidating his assets in anticipation of a ransom demand. Neil warns him that it'll endanger his business deals but Eric insists that nothing is more important than his daughter. MacGyver arrives and tells Eric that he has to call the police. Eric is reluctant to endanger his daughter but gives in. While he calls Lt. Rhome, MacGyver tries to reassures Ingrid's mother Greta, who doesn't know where her daughter is.
Lisa finally catches someone's attention and gets them to let her out, and then has them drive her home. Meanwhile, Lt. Rhome and his men arrive and set up a tapping device on the phone. Lisa arrives, much to their surprise, and they realize that the men abducted Ingrid by mistake. Lisa picked up Ingrid's sunglasses, which one of the kidnappers touched and dropped, and gives them to the police so they can check the man's fingerprints.
The head kidnapper calls and tells them that they want $3 million in for return for Lisa's safe return. Eric plays along and agrees to deliver the money to a flagpole at Observation Park at midnight. The kidnapper hangs up before Rhome can trace the call. Lisa is happy that they'll be able to get Ingrid back, until Eric admits that he doesn't intend to pay $3 million for someone else's daughter. Greta begs him to help but Eric chooses to leave it up to the police to handle the matter. Lisa snaps at her father in anger, disgusted that he'd let Ingrid die. She goes out in disgust and MacGyver takes her to the Foundation to try and identify the kidnapper.
At the Foundation, MacGyver uses computer software to come up with a picture of the kidnapper based on Lisa's description. As they work, Lisa complains about her father's attitude, and how everything looks hopeless for Ingrid. MacGyver reminds her that things looked hopeless in Switzerland when Lisa helped him defeat assassins. He points out that Eric is still going to the park and putting his life at risk to get Ingrid back and Lisa feels better.
At the Breland Steel Mill, Mike Travers arrives to meet with Molenski and Delaney. When he checks on their victim, he immediately realizes that they grabbed the wrong girl. Travers tells Ingrid that she won't be hurt and then figures that Eric is playing along since he knows his own daughter is safe. He tells the others that Eric is still stringing them along, just like he did when he closed the steel mill, but they can use Ingrid to their advantage.
At home, Eric prepares to leave, and Lisa apologizes for her attitude earlier. At Observation Park, Rhome assures Eric that his men have all the exits covered. He goes to the flagpole and finds a note directing him to the observatory. They go there and find Ingrid, unharmed. However, when they ungag her she tells them that the kidnappers told her to tell Eric that they have "leverage." Eric realizes that they are going after Lisa at the Goodman home. They call and get no answer, and head back only to discover that Ingrid and the policeman on duty have been tied up and Lisa is gone.
The next morning, MacGyver talks to Ingrid and tries to get her to remember anything useful. She talks about how she was held in a large building and there was grit on the floor. Examining her shoes, MacGyver finds metal shavings and figures she was held at a steel-working plant. As Rhome starts to check out places that fit the description, Travers calls Eric on Lisa's private line, bypassing the phone trace. He says that he knew Eric wouldn't play by the rules, the same way he always does. Now Eric has to pay $5 million to get back Lisa, and he can't involve the police. Once Travers hangs up, Eric tells Rhome that from now on he's going to handle the matter on his own.
At the steel mill, Lisa asks why Travers hates her father. Travers explains that Eric bought out the steel mill and then shut it down, putting 400 men out of work. Now Travers plans to make Eric pay for it. Lisa tries to convince him she can get her father to rehire the men, but Travers doesn't believe her. He locks her up in a second-floor office and tells his men that they're going to kill her once they have the money.
MacGyver tells Eric that the police have identified the fingerprints as belonging to Kirk Delaney, who was arrested during a steelworker strike several years ago. MacGyver figures that the kidnappers must have a grudge and Neil recalls that Travers owned Breland Steel Mill. Eric says that he did everyone a favor by shutting down the doomed company and gave the workers three months' severance pay. MacGyver warns that Travers may not have taken it so well and goes to the steel mill to investigate. Travers calls and admits to Eric who he is. He threatens Lisa's life and tells Eric to come alone to the steel mill. Once Travers ends the call, Eric goes to the steel mill with the $5 million, worried that Travers will spot MacGyver and kill Lisa.
MacGyver sneaks into the steel mill by climbing the fence. Inside, he overhears Molenski and Delaney balking at the idea of murder but Travers insists it's too late for anything else. Travers and Molenski go to watch for Eric while Delaney watches Lisa. MacGyver swings down on a rope and knocks the kidnapper out, but is unable to find the key to let Lisa out of the locked office. He quickly hides the unconscious man when Travers comes up to get Lisa.
As Travers takes Lisa downstairs, MacGyver finds a magnetic crane and uses it to pick up the car that Molenski is hiding in. Lisa runs to her father and Travers chases after her. Eric begs him to take the $5 million and leave them alone, but Travers insists on getting revenge. MacGyver arrives and tells him that it's not too late for Eric to make amends, and that Travers isn't a murderer. Eric promises to reopen the plant and put the men back to work, but Travers doesn't believe him. MacGyver says that they're going to have to trust Travers, and Travers is going to have to trust Eric to keep his word. Travers finally releases Lisa and hands his gun over to MacGyver.
As the police take Travers and the others into custody, Eric says that he doesn't have any plans to carry through on his promise. With a little prodding, Lisa convinces him to keep his promise and help the unemployed men, and father and daughter are happily reunited.