The town was first mentioned as Tullina in an 859 deed, when the area was part of the Bavarian marcha orientalis. It gained importance as a residence of the noble House of Babenberg, ruling as Austrian margraves from 976 onwards. Tulln lost its significance after the Babenbergs relocated their residence to Vienna.
On September 6, 1683, the Polish cavalry of King John III Sobieski united here with Imperial (Austrian) forces, as well as troops from Saxony, Bavaria and Baden for the Battle of Vienna against the invading army of the Ottoman Empire. The 20th century was another period of growth, and in 1986, Tulln applied to become capital of Lower Austria, although Sankt Pölten eventually won.
An important sugar producing plant, Agrana Austria, is located in Tulln. Several important trade fairs, including camping equipment and boat shows, also take place in the town. Various state institutions of Lower Austria, such as the fire brigade or the disaster relief service, have their seat in Tulln. The Federal School of Aviation is also located in Tulln.