Originally started in 1962 as a Catholic literary quarterly by Edward Keating, Ramparts soon became associated with the New Left of the 1960's under the influence of such editors as Warren Hinkle, Robert Scheer, and James F. Colaianni. It targeted a broader audience than many leftist-leaning periodicals of the time with its high-end graphic production values and enjoyed a steadily increasing readership due to newsstand and subscription sales from 1966 to 1970.
Ramparts became an early critic of the Vietnam War publishing the first national article denouncing the use of Napalm. Other articles questioned the findings of the Warren Commission; included the diaries of Che Guevara introduced by Fidel Castro and the prison diaries of Eldridge Cleaver; and exposed the CIA use of American universities including Michigan State for the training Vietnamese security forces and the agency's funding of the National Student Association during the Cold War. Indeed, one of the most famous Ramparts covers pictures then Vietnamese First Lady Madame Nhu as an MSU cheerleader as part of an expose regarding the cooperation between MSU and the CIA that occurred during the 1960's.
Ramparts also provided a venue for discussion of the arts and culture including contributions from poet Allen Ginsberg, reporter Hunter S. Thompson, Peter Ustinov, and John Lennon. Publication ceased in 1975.