Astrud Gilberto was born Astrud Evangelina Weinert, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a German father, in the state of Bahia, Brazil. She was raised in Rio de Janeiro. Her father was a language professor and she became fluent in several languages. She married João Gilberto in 1959 and had a son, João Marcelo Gilberto. She has another son from a second marriage, Gregory Lasorsa. Later she began a relationship with her husband's musical collaborator, American jazz saxophone player Stan Getz. She emigrated to the United States in 1963, residing in the U.S. from that time. Astrud and João divorced in the mid-1960s.
She sang on two tracks on the influential 1963 album Getz/Gilberto featuring João Gilberto, Stan Getz, and Antônio Carlos Jobim, despite having never sung professionally before this recording. The 1964 single version of "The Girl from Ipanema", taken from the 1963 album, omitted the Portuguese lyrics sung by João Gilberto, and established Astrud Gilberto as a Bossa Nova singer. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. In 1964, Gilberto appeared in the films Get Yourself a College Girl and The Hanged Man. Her first solo album was The Astrud Gilberto Album (1965). Upon moving to the United States, she went on tour with Getz. Beginning as a singer of bossa nova and American jazz standards, Gilberto started to record her own compositions in the 1970s. She has recorded songs in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.
In 1982, Gilberto's son Marcelo joined her group, touring with her for more than a decade as bassist. In addition, he collaborated as co-producer of the albums Live in New York (1996) and Temperance (1997). Her son Gregory Lasorsa played guitar on the Temperance album on the song "Beautiful You", which features singer Michael Franks.
Gilberto received the Latin Jazz USA Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1992, and was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2002. In 1996, she contributed to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Rio produced by the Red Hot Organization, performing the song "Desafinado" (Portuguese for "slightly out of tune", or "off key") along with George Michael. Although she did not officially retire, Gilberto announced in 2002 that she was taking "indefinite time off" from public performances.
Her original recording of "Fly Me to the Moon" was edited as a duet using a recording of the same song by Frank Sinatra for the soundtrack of Down with Love (2003). Her recording "Who Can I Turn To?" was sampled by The Black Eyed Peas in the song "Like That" from the 2005 album Monkey Business. Her vocals on "Berimbau" were sampled by Cut Chemist in his song "The Garden". Her recording of "Once I Loved" was featured in the 2007 film Juno. The "Astrud" track on Basia Trzetrzelewska's 1987 album, Time and Tide, is a tribute to Gilberto.
Gilberto is an advocate of animal rights.