The original Sydney University Press was established by the University in 1962.

University by-law at the time enshrined its objectives:

the objects of Sydney University Press shall be to undertake the publication of works of learning and to carry out the business of publication in all its branches.

The Press was effectively dismantled in 1987 to become, for a time, an imprint of Oxford University Press till the mid 1990s when Oxford University Press relinquished the imprint and business name.

During this relatively brief period of time Sydney University Press published several hundred books and many journals representing scholarship at the University and beyond. These publications included major works by many of the University's leading scholars such as JM Ward, Butlin, Turney, Wilkes, K Campbell, J Young, Wolnizer, Jeans, Meaney, and Webby. It included series such as the Challis Shakespeare, Australian Literary Reprints, and journals such as Journal of Industrial Relations, Mankind, Australian Economic History Review, Abacus, and Pathology. The output of Sydney University Press represented the breadth, and the best, of the University of Sydney.