For the first time it was mentioned in Ipatiiv chronicles in 1146. In the XII-XIII centuries it was the centre of personal principality. The events of a march of the Novhorod-Sivers'kyi prince Igor Sviatoslavovych in 1185 against Polovets tribes were connected with Putyvl' and described in a famous "Word about Igor's regiment".
Since 1779 it was in Kurs'k province. Since 1926 the town became part of Ukraine.