The group had its origins when sisters June and Bonnie Pointer began performing in clubs in 1969 as "Pointers, a Pair". The line-up grew to a trio when sister Anita Pointer joined them. They got a record deal with Atlantic Records and released several unsuccessful singles. The trio grew to a quartet when sister Ruth joined in December 1972. They then signed with Blue Thumb Records, recorded their debut album, and began seeing more success, winning a Grammy Award in 1975 for Best Country Vocal Performance for "Fairytale" (1974). Bonnie left the group in 1978 to commence a solo career with only modest success.
The group achieved its greatest commercial success as a trio during the 1980s consisting of the line-up of June, Ruth, and Anita, winning two more Grammys for the top 10 hits "Jump (for My Love)" (1984) and "Automatic" (1984). The group's other U.S. top 10 hits are "Fire" (1979), "He's So Shy" (1980), "Slow Hand" (1981), the remixed version of "I'm So Excited" (1984) and "Neutron Dance" (1985). June Pointer, the youngest sister, struggled with drug addiction for much of her career, leaving the group in April 2004 and dying from extensive cancer in April 2006, at the age of 52. She was replaced by Ruth's daughter Issa Pointer. This trio had a number two hit in Belgium in 2005, covering "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" with Belgian singer Natalia. Since 2009, the group has consisted of Anita, Ruth, Issa, and Ruth's granddaughter Sadako Pointer. While all four women remain in the group, they most often perform as a trio rotating the lineup as needed.
In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked them as the 80th most successful dance artists of all-time. In December 2017, Billboard magazine ranked them as the 93rd most successful Hot 100 Artist of all-time and as the 32nd most successful Hot 100 Women Artist of all-time.