The organisation now known as SA Pathology was first established in 1938, to provide laboratory diagnostic services for the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) in Adelaide, South Australia, and the medical community.

It began as a development from the RAH laboratories, largely due to the vision of Sir Trent Champion de Crespigny, Medical Superintendent of the RAH and Dean of Medicine from 1929 to 1947, for an institute that combined laboratory services, teaching and research.

In June 2008, Professor Ruth Salom was appointed Executive Director and formed a full state-wide service incorporating all 6 metropolitan and 11 regional public hospital laboratories.

Today,  SA Pathology provides not-for-profit services to both South Australian public hospital patients as well as the general community.  The integration with teaching hospitals and university medical schools has supported the development of SA Pathology's comprehensive teaching and training program for all pathologists in the state.

As all clinical and diagnostic testing is performed in South Australia, SA Pathology directly provides employment to over 2000 staff throughout the state, including those in remote and regional locations, in line with its long-term commitment to the rural community.

SA Pathology actively supports research, having established within it the Hanson Institute and the Centre for Cancer Biology. It supports over 200 researchers, many working on studies to identify fundamental causes of cancer in order to find new ways to prevent and treat the disease. The success of this research is exemplified by two staff being awarded SA Scientist of the Year; Professor John Hopwood in 2008 and Professor Angel Lopez in 2010.  

Today, SA Pathology is recognised not only within South Australia for the quality of its pathology services, but also throughout the world as a hub of innovative science leading to breakthrough therapies.