The history of Wrocław Slavic studies dates back to the mid-19th century, when the lectures were conducted by František Ladislav Čelakovský, Wincenty Kraiński, Wojciech Cybulski, Władysław Nehring, Rudolf Abicht and Paul Diels.

After World War II, the first Slavic studies lectures (on Russian literature) were conducted by professor Stanisław Kolbuszewski, a polonist. Additionally, a guest lecturer from Cracow, Tadeusz Stanisław Grabowski conducted the lectures on Western Slavic literature. The Institute of Polish and Slavic Studies, established in autumn 1945, provided the necessary organisational framework for these undertakings. It consisted of the Department of Polish Language, the Department of General Slavic Linguistics, and, since mid-1946, the Department of Eastern Slavic Linguistics, led by Leszek Ossowski.

The academic interests and didactic work of Leszek Ossowski, especially in the field of Russian philology (his first lectures were devoted to Russian language morphology, dialectology and the history of the language of literature) had a major influence on the development of contemporary Slavic studies in Wrocław. Leszek Ossowski was associated with the university for nearly 20 years. He also devoted his time to educating Russian language teachers in Opole, and after that – at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

Professor Leszek Ossowski (1905-1996) begun his Slavic studies at Poznań University, and completed his master's thesis and earned his doctorate from Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He was a student of outstanding Polish slavists – Edward Klich, Henryk Ułaszyn, Kazimierz Nitsh, Iwan Ziłyński, Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński. It was their influence that shaped his vast academic interests: 1. Eastern Slavic and Polish-Eastern Slavic dialectology, 2. Russian and Baltic Slavic accentuation, Russian language morphology, 3. the place of origin of Slavs. The professor made prominent new discoveries in all these fields.

This multi-faceted research, including both investigation of sources and theory, presenting a diachronic and synchronic view of the language material (Belarusian, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish) in descriptive and comparative manner – became an inspiration for his successors. The Wrocław University has since witnessed a rapid growth of comparative Polish – Eastern Slavic studies and wide-ranging research on particular Eastern Slavic languages. Among professor Ossowski's students, there were Larysa Pisarek and Diana Wieczorek. Bronisława Konopielko, Jan Sokołowski and Michał Sarnowski belong to the next generation of linguists connected with Wrocław Slavic studies. The two latter are students of an outstanding Wrocław slavist Antoni Furdal, a former student of Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

The Department of Russian Literature History and Other Slavic Literatures was founded in 1946; since 1947 it was led by Marian Jakóbiec. In 1949 both the Departament of Eastern Slavic Linguistics and the Departament of Russian Literature History and Other Slavic Literatures were separated from the Institute of Polish and Slavic Studies and became (after their merger in 1950) parts of the new, independent academic division – the Department of Russian Studies, which became a foundation for the Institute of Slavic Studies in 1969. The administrative tasks connected with these breakthrough changes were carried out by Marian Jakóbiec – first as the manager of the Departament, then as the headmaster of the Institute (till 1971). It is also thanks to his initiative that the first issue of the reputable journal Slavica Wratislaviensia was published in 1969.

The next headmasters of the Institute of Slavic Studies were: Zbigniew Barański, Franciszek Sielicki, Telesfor Poźniak, Krystyna Galon-Kurkowa, Tadeusz Klimowicz and Anna Paszkiewicz.

Marian Jakóbiec (1910-1998) was the founder of contemporary Slavic studies in Poland, which focused on both literary history and linguistics. He conceived and founded the Wrocław school of Slavic literature studies, which investigated the whole of Slavic literatures, including interslavic, Slavic-Western European and Slavic-Bysantine connections. He initiated the studies of Slavic folklore and literary and cultural Polish-Slavic relationships.

Marian Jakóbiec understood the Slavic literatures as a diverse and integral part of the European culture rooted in both Western and Eastern tradition. This approach was followed by his Wrocław students. The most prominent of them are Zbigniew Barański, Franciszek Sielicki, Telesfor Późniak, Kole Simiczijew, Krystyna Galon-Kurkowa and Łucja Skotnicka. His interest in Southern Slavs was continued by Milica Jakóbiec-Semkowowa. The students of Marian Jakóbiec's successors are Tadeusz Klimowicz, Anna Paszkiewicz, Izabella Malej, Anna Skotnicka and Zofia Tarajło-Lipowska.

Through years, among the employees of the institute there were: Grażyna Bobilewicz, Józef Borsukiewicz, Stanisław Kochman, Bronisław Kodzis, Marian Ściepuro, Zbigniew Zbyrowski. Also the public defences of doctoral dissertations and habilitational colloquia of Krzysztof Cieślik, Stefan Kozak, Andrzej Ksenicz, Anna Majmieskułow, Antoni Semczuk, Aleksandra Wieczorek took place at the institute.

Many of these scholars participate in the international academic conferences organized yearly by the Institute in the last days of November. The conferences are devoted to linguistics ('Word and Sentence in Slavic Languages') in even years and to literary history ('The Great Topics of Culture in Slavic Literatures') in odd years. The events are usually accompanied by the presentation of the Professor Bronisława Konopielka Award (for outstanding publications on Slavic linguistics). The conference materials are published in special collections.

The Institute of Slavic Studies is constantly developing. Presently, it employs nearly 50 academic staff (including 12 professors and habilitated doctors) who teach 850 participants (russicists, bohemists, serbists, ukrainists) of full-time, part-time, evening and postgraduate (Russian Business Language) studies.

In 2003, among five other Polish Slavic institutes (but as the only with a Russian studies curriculum), the Wrocław Institute of Slavic Studies was granted the accreditation of the University Accreditation Committee. In 2004, the National Academic Accreditation Committee has given the Institute the following scores: Three-year BA studies (Czech, Russian, Serb, Ukrainian specialties) – positive score, two-year master studies (Czech, Russian, Serb specialties) – positive score and conditional score for the Ukrainian specialty.