Moscow Sport Circle was founded in 1921 by Ivan Artemyev and Nikolai Starostin, who quickly turned the new club's attention to football. They changed their name to Spartak Moscow in 1934 and won their first league title two years later, led by manager Mikhail Koslov and top scorer Georgy Glazkov.
They won two more titles in 1938 and 1939, then took six more in the 1950s and '60s. By the time the Soviet Union disbanded, they had a total of twelve, second only to Dynamo Kyiv's thirteen. They then dominated the new Russian league in the 1990s, winning seven titles between 1992 and 1999 (the only one they missed was 1995). They also have six titles as champions of the interim Commonwealth of Independent States.
Along the way, their rosters included players like Nikita Simonyan, their all-time top scorer, with 133 goals between 1949 and 1959.
They won their last league title in 2001, but remain constant challengers.