The Rome Games were the first to have worldwide television coverage and they got underway with 100,000 at the Olympic Stadium for the opening.
Wilma Rudolph was a triple gold winner
Did you know? Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the marathon running barefoot
All the athletes except for the Soviet competitors had received the blessing of the Pope in St Peter's Square.
The USA and the USSR were as competitive as ever but the Soviets topped the medals table with 42 golds.
American sprinter Wilma Rudolph caught the public imagination with three sprint gold medals.
Rudolph, who suffered from polio as a child and was one of 19 children, triumphed in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay.
But the biggest star to emerge from the Games was Cassius Clay - who won gold in the light heavyweight division and went on to become the sporting icon Muhammad Ali.
Ethiopia's emergence on the long distance running scene was emphasised by Abebe Bikila winning the men's marathon - barefooted.
Competition in the swimming events was of a particularly high standard with Olympic records broken in every event.
Great Britain's Anita Lonsbrough prevented Australia and America from producing a clean-sweep of all 15 events.