As a hovering spacecraft departs a planet, a humanoid alien drinks a dark bubbling liquid, then starts to disintegrate. The alien's remains cascade into a waterfall. His DNA triggers a biogenetic reaction.
In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map in Scotland that matches others from several unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity's forerunners, the "Engineers". Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific vessel Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223. The ship's crew travels in stasis while the android David monitors their voyage. Arriving in 2093, they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. Mission director Meredith Vickers orders the crew to avoid making contact without her permission.
The Prometheus lands near a large artificial structure, which a team explores. Inside they find numerous stone cylinders, a monolithic statue of a humanoid head, and the corpse of a large alien, thought to be an Engineer. They find other bodies and presume the species is extinct. David secretly takes a cylinder, while the remaining cylinders begin leaking a dark liquid, which comes in contact with worm-like life forms on the ground. A rapidly approaching storm forces the crew to return to Prometheus, leaving members Millburn and Fifield stranded in the structure. David communicates with someone unseen in a stasis pod on the ship and is told to "try harder". In the ship's lab, the Engineer's DNA is found to match that of humans. David investigates the cylinder and the dark liquid inside. He then taints a drink with the substance and gives it to an unaware Holloway.