MacGyver returns from a mission early via USAF fighter so he can participate in his friend Kelly Sutton's 60th birthday party. He goes to the Phoenix Foundation where Pete and the other employees mistake him for Kelly. As they start to clean up for when Kelly arrives, Pete notes that Kelly is late.
At home, Kelly is drinking heavily and has the gas turned on, the pilot light off, and the windows closed. He looks at a photo of his three children and ignores the phone when Pete calls him. At Pete's office, MacGyver finds a note from Kelly bequeathing him his favorite pool cue and figures something is wrong. He goes to Kelly's apartment and smells gas from beneath the door. The door's locked and MacGyver quickly takes a nearby fire hose, cuts it loose, fastens one end to the door knob and the other to the nearby elevator. He then sends the elevator down and rips the doorknob off. MacGyver goes inside and airs out the place, then takes Kelly to his home and asks what's going on. Kelly is initially too proud to say, but eventually admits that he got involved in a bogus land development scheme and lost all of his money. He figured that if he died in a seeming gas accident, the life insurance would cover his children's hospital bills.
Kelly gives MacGyver the name of the con artist, James Crowe, and Pete brings up his extensive record. He also introduces MacGyver to Joanne Remmings, a mousy-looking newly-hired terrorist expert who knows about con games. She knows about Crowe and says he likes to play the horses and always wears white suits. Crowe is too smooth for the police to get anything on him so Joanne suggests that they con the con artist. Pete is reluctant to involve the Phoenix Foundation but he and MacGyver agree to give it a try... without Joanne.
Pete and MacGyver put their plan into operation at the horse tracks where Crowe is watching the races. They stage a conversation where MacGyver rips off Pete, pretending to be a cop, by convincing him he has winning numbers. As they talk, Pete mentions he has a deal set up and needs MacGyver's money. Crowe realizes MacGyver is running a con and approaches him after Pete leaves. He wants to buy into Pete's deal and MacGyver agrees to meet with him in twenty minutes at the stables.
MacGyver goes to the stables early and spots someone following him. He ambushes the person and discovers it's Joanne, who followed him there to get out from behind a computer and get some field experience. Before MacGyver can send her away, they hear Crowe and two of his men preparing to beat a trainer who failed to dope a horse and fix a race for them. MacGyver takes some of Joanne's buttons and hair pins, then removes her glasses and opens up her blouse to show some cleavage. Once she's transformed, they walk down to the stable and interrupt the beating. Crowe postpones it and agrees to the early meeting. MacGyver explains that Joanne is Pete's girlfriend. Joanne takes charge and says they're trying to get Pete to supply them for a cocaine deal using his in at the police station, and Crowe is interested in hearing more.
Later at the Foundation, MacGyver is less than thrilled that Joanne came up with a different con than the one he and Pete had planned. Joanne insists on going through with it. MacGyver has to explain to Pete about the change in plans, and they realize they need another person. They decide to bring in Kelly, wearing a disguise.
MacGyver, Pete, and Joanne meet Crowe at a bridge and explain they need him to put up the money to buy a pound of cocaine. He's reluctant to investigate until Pete threatens to walk.
That night, they go to a specially-prepared hotel room to prepare for Crowe's arrival. Pete loads his gun with blanks. Crowe arrives and they show him the room where the deal is going. Then they take him to a neighboring room with a two-way mirror to view the first room. He gives them the cocaine, which they'll use as the sample packet in a briefcase otherwise full of fake cocaine. MacGyver, Joanne, and Crowe watch as a disguised Kelly arrives to buy the drugs from Pete. Kelly test the real cocaine but then draws his gun. Pete goes for his gun, but Crowe panics and shoots through the mirror at Kelly, who goes down dead.
They quickly usher Crowe out, telling him they'll need to leave the cocaine behind to provide evidence of a motive for the shooting. Once he's gone, Kelly gets up: Crowe missed, and Kelly was using a blood pack to fake a wound. However, Crowe and his men are watching outside and he has them follow Joanne so he can get some "insurance."
The next day they meet and MacGyver and Pete tell him their plan to get the cocaine back. This time they need $400,000 cash so they can have a reason to go into the evidence room, then they'll smuggle out another $2 million being kept as evidence. Crowe reluctantly agrees.
At the Foundation, Pete and MacGyver tell Joanne that it's too dangerous for her to participate. She goes home to release her frustrations by taking photos. MacGyver comes visiting with sandwiches as a peace offering. Crowe's men cut the lights and the outside phone lines. MacGyver takes a large flashlight battery and wires it to one of her photography studio lights. He props a letter opener up on two matchbooks so when it falls it will complete the circuit. The men come in and bump the letter opener, setting off the light and blinding themselves. MacGyver and Joanne make a run for it but Crowe is waiting outside. He tells MacGyver he's going to hold on to Joanne for insurance and leaves with his men.
MacGyver and Pete have to come up with a new plan: frame Crowe for stealing from the police evidence cage. The next day when they meet with Crowe, they convince him they don't care about Joanne and he insists on going in with them. He has Joanne hidden nearby and tells his two men to release her when they see him come out with the trunk. As they go to the station, Pete holds Crowe at gunpoint and MacGyver takes the $400,000. Kelly pulls up in a van and they undress Crowe, then tie and gag him and put him in a trunk filled with cocaine. MacGyver puts on Crowe's suit and he and Pete take the trunk into the police station. Pete claims to be a police officer arresting MacGyver for pickpocketing. When the officer in charge, Tilly, leaves the evidence cage to get the papers, MacGyver secretly blocks the lock. They take the trunk inside and tie Crowe to a shelf. MacGyver cuts the bottom of the trunk loose and they put it on a cart, then disconnect the door switch.
Finally they leave with the trunk and load it into the van. They then drive to where Crowe's men are supposed to be watching and carefully put the trunk on the sidewalk using the cart. The two men leave the camper where they're holding Joanne and run for the trunk. They realize "Crowe" is actually MacGyver in their boss' suit but can't make a scene outside the police station. They grab the trunk while MacGyver gets Joanne to safety.
Inside, Crowe works himself free but Tilly returns and discovers him. Tilly sounds the alarm and sends officers out to find two men with a stolen trunk. Crowe's men hear the alarm and pick up the trunk, and the bottom falls out, dumping the cocaine on the street. The police catch them red-handed, while Kelly and Pete pick up MacGyver and Joanne and drive away.