- January 1 - the Copyright Act of 1976 takes effect, making sweeping changes to United States copyright law.
- January 19 - Federal Appeals Court Judge William H. Webster appointed as Director of the FBI
- February 11 - 16 Unification Church couples wed in New York NY.
- February 11 - China lifts a ban on works by Aristotle, Shakespeare, & Dickens.
- February 15 - Rhodesia's prime minister Ian D. Smith and three black leaders agree on the transfer to black majority rule.
- March 16 - United States Senate approves the Panama Canal neutrality treaty; votes to turn the canal over to Panama by the year 2000 on April 18.
- March 16 - Former Italian premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped by left wing terrorists, who kill five bodyguards; he is found dead on May 9.
- June 6 - Californians in referendum approve Proposition 13 for a nearly 60% slash in property tax revenues.
- June 28 - The United States Supreme Court, in the Bakke case, bars quota systems in college admissions but affirms constitutionality of programs giving advantage to minorities.
- August 6 - Pope Paul VI dies at age of 80. The new Pope, John Paul I, age 65, dies unexpectedly after 34 days in office on September 28. He is succeeded by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland as John Paul II on October 16.
- September 17 - Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt
- Argentina wins Football World Cup on home ground
- November 18 - Reverend Jim Jones's followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
- Physics - Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa, Arno Allan Penzias, Robert Woodrow Wilson
- Chemistry - Peter D Mitchell
- Medicine - Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans, Hamilton O Smith
- Literature -Isaac Bashevis Singer
- Peace - Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat and Menachem Begin
- Economics - Herbert Simon