Players moved their playing pieces (one of four color-coded young women, printed cardboard figures on plastic bases) around a multicolored board covered with artwork featuring four different types of dates a girl could go on - skiing; a formal ball; a beach party; or bowling.
Players collected cards according to instructions on the different board spaces, attempting to collect all three of each 'suit' of cards which corresponded to the different date types; for example, the Skiing date, with blue artwork, had 1. a Parka, 2. Sweater and Ski Pants, and 3. Skis and Ski Shoes as its complete card set.
If a player landed on the corner or center spaces on the board, she could open up the white plastic door in the middle of the board, which sported a blue knob and a large question mark. A small plastic cam mechanism on the underside of the door knob allowed one of five boy characters to show when the door opened: the Beach date, the Skiing date, the Formal date, or the Bowling Date.
If the girl who opened the door to a certain type of date had all three cards corresponding to that date type, she won the game.
A fifth young man could also be seen when the door opened: he was a slovenly, unkempt fellow known as the Dud. If an unlucky girl revealed him on her turn, she lost all of the cards in her hand and lost that turn.
Mystery Date was reissued for several years after its initial release, each time with updated artwork to reflect changing fashion and design trends.