Stacey Walling, the radical daughter of Cardway Corporation president Don Walling, plants a bomb in the company's computer bank to protest the manufacture of Cardonite 3, a dangerous chemical. Stacey's brother Brian returns from bumming around Europe and is hired to work at Cardway's chemical plant. Later, Brian visits old friend Glory Dalessio, daughter of chemical plant manager Tom Dalessio, where he meets Glory's attractive black roommate Summer Johnson. Astrid Rutledge, scheming wife of Cardway's senior VP Howell Rutledge, plots to dig up dirt on Mark Desmond who is being considered for a position on the board of directors.Mark's live-in girlfriend Yvonne Holland fears her lurid past might catch up with her when a porn film she made is set for public release.
Astrid's plan to ruin Mark by exposing his relationship with Yvonne fails. Yvonne confides her porno past to Helen Walling, Cardway Corporation president Don Walling's wife. Helen encourages Yvonne to contact former husband Brad, a porn producer who can stop the film's distribution. At the Cardway chemical plant, Brian Waling meets shop steward Harry Ragin who is upset about rumors of future layoffs at Cardway. Later, Harry proposes an alternative to Don Walling. Brian encounters Summer teaching at Cardway's daycare center. Stacey warns Brian about the dangers of Cardonite 3 and admits she detonated the bomb that destroyed Cardway's computer bank. The board of directors announces Mark's election to the board. The police discover Stacey's involvement in the explosion.
On the run from the police, Stacey hides out in Summer's apartment, but Glory turns them both in to the authorities. Astrid reveals Yvonne's lurid past to Howell, who forces Mark's resignation. Later, Yvonne returns to her former husband Brad after he promises not to release her porn video if she stays with him. Board member Hilary Madison finds herself attracted to new chauffeur Nick Koslo. Glory blackmails VP Anderson Gault when he attempts to end their secret love affair.
Glory confesses to a stunned Tom that she handed Stacey and Summer over to the police. Meanwhile, Stacey is held in protective custody. Distraught over the pain she has caused Mark, Yvonne swallows a bottle of sleeping pills, but Astrid and Howell save her. After seeing Nick's portfolio, Hilary arranges a draftsman's job for him at Cardway; however he is later revealed to be an industrial spy working for company rival Sharon Coby. At the vjail, Summer lashes out at Brian, and then they grow closer.
With her radical friends captured, Stacey is released into the custody of her parents, but fears she has traded one prison for another. Yvonne promises Mark she will submit to psychotherapy if he returns to his job at Cardway. Glory tells Andy Galt's wife Leona that she and Andy are having an affair. Brian asks Summer to spend a quiet day with him. Don plans a takeover of Duquesne Lumber. Hilary is upset to learn Nick has a son he failed to previously mention.
Nick arranges a visit between his son B.J. and Hilary. Later, Nick explains that he didn't tell Hilary about B.J. because he fears the child might become too attached to her. Brian helps Summer move into her new apartment where they share their first kiss. At the Cardway company barbecue, Howell suffers a heart attack while arguing with Don about the Duquesne take-over. Stacey tries to make Helen understand that she can't change to fit her parent's image of a Walling child.
Nick begs Sharon to release him, but she forces him into stealing one last piece of information. Howell learns he must undergo a risky heart by-pass surgery in order to survive. Hilary takes the board of directors to task for using Howell's illness to their personal advantage. Tom almost catches Nick photographing top secret Cardway files. Don informs Duquesne he has six months to make the lumber commpany viable. Board member Malcolm Gibson uncovers evidence of industrial espionage at Cardway and sets a trap to unmask the spy.
Don goads Howell into having by-pass surgery. Stacey shares a beer with Harry Ragin. Don and Malcolm realize Nick is Cardway's industrial spy after he's captured photographing top secret files on hidden camera. A devastated Hilary learns the truth about Nick then tells him he only has until morning before facing arrest. At a Johnson family dinner, Summer's grandmother approves of Brian, but Summer's angry brother Walter privately threatens him with bodily harm if he doesn't stay away.
Arrested for industrial espionage, Nick begs Hilary to take care of B.J. for him. Howell survives heart by-pass surgery and recuperates at home. After agreeing to perform volunteer work, Stacey receives a suspended sentence. Leona leaves Andy at home alone to attend the theater with her friend Julie. Don offers a takeover of Sharon Coby's company in exchange for not preferring criminal charges against her. Brian informs Summer that he sees a future for them together.
Nick pleads guilty and receives a one-year prison sentence. Hilary is granted temporary custody of B.J. An angry Summer confronts Brian when she realizes the Wallings are not aware of their plans for a future. Stacey begins her court mandated volunteer work as an orderly at a local hospital. Leona's friend Julie makes a stunning announcement that she's a lesbian in an abusive marriage with a man. Later, Julie's jealous husband visits Andy, suggesting that their wives are lovers. Don and Helen are shocked over Brian's announcement that he intends to marry his black girlfriend.
After a disastrous confrontation with his parents, Brian moves in with Summer, who later learns that her brother Walter has threatened Brian. A bored Helen decides to join a local drama group and is instantly attracted to its handsome director David Valerio. Howell returns to Cardway following recovery from his by-pass operation. Andy demands to know if Leona and Julie have become lovers. Hilary cancels an important business meeting for B.J. when he has problems at school. Leona meets with Julie and grudgingly admits that she is physically attracted to her. Later, Leona runs from the office in tears, but when Julie follows, she is hit and killed by a speeding truck.
At the hospital, Summer learns she is pregnant with Brian's baby and swears Stacey to secrecy until she can decide what to do. Andy and Leona attend Julie's funeral where a violent confrontation ensues with Julie's husband. Stacey discourages Harry from accepting Don's offer of a promotion to plant foreman. Don attempts to persuade black board member Malcolm Gibson to intercede in Brian and Summer's relationship. Helen receives a bouquet of flowers from David Valerio who vows to have her for his own, but Helen later reconsiders and withdraws from the drama group.
David apologizes to Helen for his behavior and asks her to return to the drama group. Brian professes his love to Summer, but during an argument, she is unable to tell him that she's carrying his child. Harry accepts Don's job offer. Later, Stacey tells him that she regrets being so negative about his promotion. A despondent Leona loses her grip on reality and barges into Hilary's house with a client only to be told that the house was never on the market.
Astrid fears she's responsible for Howell's impotence. Don supports Harry when he's rejected by several employees. Summer decides to move home to her grandmother's house, while Stacey convinces Brian to return to the Walling mansion. Helen rejoins David Valerio's drama group. Malcolm visits Summer's grandmother with a payment for the death of Summer's father, killed years before in an accident at Cardway. Hilary visits Nick in prison and realizes she still has feelings for him. Walter arranges for Summer to get an abortion, but her grandmother urges her to tell Brian about the baby. Andy worries about Leona's sanity when she forgets he's away on a business trip.
Helen and David Valerio attend the theater together. Stacey and Harry's relationship becomes intimate. Don voices unhappiness with Stacey and Harry's relationship, but Brian wryly reminds his father that at least Harry is white. Leona invites Don and Helen to dinner, but when they arrive, she has slipped into a catatonic state. After Summer's grandmother tells Brian about the pregnancy and her plans for an abortion, he makes a desperate attempt to stop her.
Brian fears he has arrived at the abortion clinic too late, but Summer reassures him that she wants to keep their baby. Later, when he proposes marriage, Summer insists she won't marry him without Don and Helen's blessing. Having seen Helen and David together, Howell tells Astrid he thinks they're having an affair. Helen offers financial assistance to David's theater. David confesses that he can't be ""just friends"" with Helen. While Stacey revels in her affair with Harry, Helen laments that all of her passion for Don is gone.
In Seattle for Cardway, Don meets Bree MacIntire, the sexy wife of his business client. Harry accuses Stacey of only being interested in him for sex, forcing her attention to Dr. Stockley, a physician at the hospital. Bree enters Don's hotel room while he is showering and answers a call from Helen. Thinking Don has been unfaithful, Helen goes to see David, who is staying in the home of his mother's employers the Freedmans. Later that night, unaware that Freedmans have returned, David fixes Helen a drink and accidentally awakens the family. Thinking he's a burglar, Mr. Freedman shoots and kills David.
Stunned by David's death, Helen has a hard time explaining her presence in the Freedman home, while the rumor mill works overtime at Cardway. Brian and Summer worry about Don and Helen's reaction to their upcoming marriage. Don resists Bree's seduction attempt, and returning home, is met by Malcolm, who informs him of the Valerio shooting. Brian and Stacey converge on the Walling home to offer their support but are unable to stop the disintegration of their parents' marriage. Don and Helen have a bitter confrontation, during which a shocked Helen learns that Don wasn't unfaithful with Bree MacIntire.