President Khatami was involved in political activities and anti-Shah campaign. He began his political activities at the Association of Muslim Students of Isfahan University, worked closely with Khomeyni's son, Ahmad Khomeyni and Mohammad Montazeri and organized religious and political debates.
After the revolution in 1979 he replaced Ayatollah Dr. Beheshti as Head of Hamburg Islamic Center in Germany.
He represented Ardakan and Meibod constituencies in the first term of Majles (Parliament) in 1980. He was also appointed head of Kayhan newspaper institute by Khomeyni in 1981, where he later resigned.
In 1982, he was appointed as the minister of culture and Islamic guidance during the premiership of Mirhossein Mousavi. During the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, he served different responsibilities including deputy and head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and chairman of the War Propaganda Headquarters.
He was once again appointed as the minister of culture and Islamic guidance by President Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1989. Following his resignation in 1992, Khatami was appointed as cultural advisor to President Rafsanjani and head of Iran's National Library. In 1996 He was appointed as a member of High Council for Cultural Revolution by the Leader Khamenei. As President he is the head of the council.
President Khatami speaks English, German and Arabic in addition to Persian. He has written a number of books and articles in different fields.
He got married in 1974 and has two daughters and a son.
President Khatami was elected as the fifth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in May 1997 elections by gaining 20,078,178 votes, almost 70 percent of the votes cast.