Gore was born on March 31, 1948, in Washington, D.C., the second of two children of Albert Gore Sr., a U.S. Representative who later served for 18 years as a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, and Pauline (LaFon) Gore, one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Gore is a descendant of Scots Irish immigrants who first settled in Virginia in the mid-17th-century and moved to Tennessee after the Revolutionary War. His older sister Nancy LaFon Gore died of lung cancer.
During the school year he lived with his family in The Fairfax Hotel in the Embassy Row section in Washington D.C. During the summer months, he worked on the family farm in Carthage, Tennessee, where the Gores grew tobacco and hay and raised cattle.
Gore attended St. Albans School, an independent college preparatory day and boarding school for boys in Washington, D.C. from 1956 to 1965, a prestigious feeder school for the Ivy League. He was the captain of the football team, threw discus for the track and field team and participated in basketball, art, and government. He graduated 25th in a class of 51, applied to one college, Harvard University, and was accepted.