The earliest known Romanian anarchist was Zamfir Arbore, a Bukovina-born political activist who was originally active in the Russian Empire, before fleeing to Switzerland, where he met Mikhail Bakunin toward the end of his career. Nevertheless, Arbore was an isolated case, he was not part of any active movement in Romania.
Another forerunner of Romanian anarchism was Paraskev Stoyanov, of Bulgarian origin, born in 1871 (or 1874) in Giurgiu, where his father, an active campaigner for national liberation, had fled Turkish persecution. Stoyanov had a solid education and became a surgeon. After primary school in Bucharest, he adhered to socialist ideas through high school, then to anarchism after reading Peter Kropotkin's pamphlet "An Appeal To The Young". Thus, in high school, he founded book clubs for students studying socialism and anarchism and began to spread anarchism among the workers in Romania, coming to be considered the "father" of anarchism in the country. He translated into Romanian Errico Malatesta's numerous pamphlets, including "For The Voters", "Between Peasants " and "Anarchy".
Starting with the 1880s, in the Romanian Old Kingdom, there were socialist movements in Bucharest and in Iași, with the former being more radical, having some anarchist tendencies. Between 1884 and 1890, a social studies circle named "Drepturile omului" (Human Rights), discussing the ideas of Bakunin, Élisée Reclus and Peter Kropotkin, ideas brought to Romania by people who studied in Western Europe. A reorganization of the movement by Ioan Nădejde stopped the anarchist tendencies which, nevertheless, persisted within the movement, the main figure being Panait Mușoiu.
The propaganda of the deed of the French anarchists led to the Romanian socialists such as Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea to write articles in which they distance themselves from the anarchists. Muşoiu was eventually purged by Nădejde and left Bucharest for Galați, where he was also expelled from the local socialist club.
Romania's secret police, Siguranța, began monitoring the anarchists, the authorities being concerned by the rise of this ideology. In 1904, Romania was among the signers of a secret anti-anarchist treaty, through which they set up a system of sharing information on the whereabout of known anarchists.
Together with Panait Zosin, Mușoiu edited Revista Ideei (Idea's Magazine) which translated, apart from Classical Greek philosophers and Socialist works, the works of anarchists such as Bakunin and Kropotkin, as well as individualist anarchists such as Max Stirner, Han Ryner and Henry David Thoreau. Apart from the circle which met at Mușoiu's house, there was a faction at meetings of the socialists in Piața Amzei and in 1907 an anarchist circle in Ploiești called Râvna ("eagerness") and later Cercul Libertar ("Libertarian Circle").
The Siguranța compiled in 1907 two lists of anarchists: first was a list of 20 anarchist activists and second, a list of 50 public servants who were subscribed to Revista Ideei. A report of the secret police argued that the propaganda of the anarchists contributed to the 1907 Romanian Peasants' Revolt. As example is given a certain village teacher, Nicolăescu-Cranta, a friend of Mușoiu, who contributed to the start of the revolts through the speeches he gave to the peasants. In 1909, a railroad worker made an assassination attempt against Prime Minister Ion I. C. Brătianu, possibly under the influence of the propaganda of the deed ideas.
After the First World War, anarchism was no longer considered the main threat by the Siguranță, being replaced with another type of revolutionary threat: Soviet-inspired communism.
During this era, the most influential Romanian anarchist being Eugen Relgis, who was the founder of Mișcarea Umanitaristă ("Humanitarian Movement"), the non-doctrinal pacifist manifest of which was signed by Relgis together with other six people, including Muşoiu. The movement's newspaper Umanitaristul had obvious libertarian influences, including works of Han Ryner or Domela Nieuwenhuis. It received a donation from Émile Armand, Relgis translating one of his works. Between 1924 and 1932, the movement had 24 centre of supporters.
Also, in the 1930s, several other libertarian groups were active. One of these, in Czernowitz, (Bukovina), was initiated by Naftali Schnapp, promoting revolutionary syndicalism. In the absence of the possibility of creating real unions and facing severe repression, the group of Czernowitz was established as an "Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda Organization", becoming the Romanian section of the IWA (International Workers Association). According to the data about the members of the International, the organization had around 200 members in 1930.
During the 2000s, a number of anarchists began organizing in Romania for the first time after the revolution. The anarchists occupied several squats, they organized a "Food Not Bombs" campaign (distributing free vegetarian food in poor neighbourhoods), they spread fliers against fast-food and ripped neonazi posters from public places. In a few instances (in Bucharest and Timișoara), there have been fights with the Noua Dreaptă neonazis, who had gone into their underground clubs during concerts.
In November 2006, a number of 100 anarchists participated in the first anti-fascist march in Bucharest, holding red and black banners. In June 2007, a group of 20 anarchists showed up at a march against homosexuality organized the Neo-Nazi organization Noua Dreaptă, but they were arrested by the gendarmes for holding an unauthorized protest.
Anarchists are one of the groups that are monitored by the Romanian Intelligence Service, including on online forums.
During the 2008 Bucharest NATO summit, the government prepared a repression of anarchists who might have protested against NATO and militarism. Six German anarchists were disallowed to enter Romania. Anti-globalization activists rented an industrial hall where they intended to spray paint banners which they wanted to use in the protests against NATO. The police arrested 56 anti-globalization activists who were later released without charges. Some of the arrested people complained that they were beaten up by the police.
Currently, in Romania there are several anarchist organizations, including:Ravna ("Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative ") based in Constanța
Biblioteca Alternativă din București ("Alternative Library of Bucharest"), a cultural centre promoting anarchist ideas
Grupul pentru Acțiune Socială ("The Group for Social Action") based in Cluj.