Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Pryor is the son of former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator David Hampton Pryor. He received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He worked in private practice for several years until being elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1990. He was elected the state Attorney General in 1998. Pryor announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2001, running for the same Senate seat his father had held from 1979 to 1997. He was elected with 54 percent of the vote.
A moderate Democrat, Pryor was a member of the bipartisan Gang of 14 formed in 2005 to forge a compromise on the use of the Senate filibuster. He was re-elected with no Republican opposition in 2008. In January 2009 he briefly became the youngest member of the Senate. In the 112th Congress he is the chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.