Larijani, raised in a religious family, graduated from a hawza before starting his higher education in electrical engineering in Sharif University of Technology, wearing the uniform for the full four years.
He is a top adviser to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in foreign affairs. He has been a key planner of foreign policy in the Islamic republic who led the ceasefire negotiations after Iran–Iraq War as Iran's chief negotiator. Larijani is a cousin of Ahmad Tavakkoli, who is the current director of Majlis Research Center.
He later continued his studies outside Iran, in the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a professor at Imam Sadegh University and Sharif University of Technology. Larijani is the head of the human rights council in the judiciary and one of the top advisors to the supreme leader.
Additionally Larijani has been the director of Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics in Tehran. Previously, he was a Majlis representative and the director of Majlis Research Center. He served as deputy minister of foreign affairs in the 1980s.
In a 2010 NBC News interview, Larijani defended the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian feminist activist, and a prominent human rights lawyer. Sotoudeh was detained in September and faces trial for "collusion against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic.". Larijani told NBC News that Iranian authorities believed that she was engaged "in a very nasty campaign" against Iran's national security.
Nasrin Sotoudeh works for Shirin Ebadi's law firm. Shirin Ebadi is the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
In May 2011, Larijani threatened to allow free passage of drug smugglers through Iran.
In November 2011, Larijani claimed that nuclear weapons violate Islam.