Stephen Strange is a brilliant but egotistical neurosurgeon who only cares about wealth from his career. However, a car accident damages his hands, shattering the bones. The damage effectively ends his ability to conduct surgery, since his hands now tremble uncontrollably. Too proud to take on a teaching job, Strange desperately begins to search for a way to restore his hands, consulting various doctors, homeopathic treatments and traveling around the world to remote regions for exotic cures, all to no avail.
Depressed and still searching, Strange locates a hermit called the Ancient One (who is actually the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme) in the Himalayas. The Ancient One refuses to help Strange because of his selfishness, but senses a good side that he attempts to bring to the surface. He fails, but Strange's goodness appears when he discovers the Ancient One's disciple, Baron Mordo, attempting to kill the old man. After Strange thwarts Mordo's plans. the Ancient One teaches him the mystic arts.
After completing his training, Strange returns to New York and takes up residence within the Sanctum Sanctorum, a townhouse located in Greenwich Village which is guarded by Strange's personal servant Wong.