Kurama is a fox demon that has been reborn in a human body as Minamino Shuuichi after injuries from his original body forced him to take dire measures to survive. Influenced by a human upbringing, he is now much gentler and holds tighter to morals than before.
Kurama was a cold hearted yōko (hence the name Yōko Kurama) and ruthless thief in the Makai considered to be an A-class demon. After being wounded by a bounty hunter while in his spirit fox form, Kurama sent his spirit into the Ningenkai (human world) where his spirit took refuge within an unborn child that had not yet gained a soul. Kurama intended to recover his strength as the child developed and leave Ningenkai to return to Makai after an estimated ten years. However, sometime during or before the tenth year, an act of selflessness by his mother, Shiori Minamino, opened Kurama's eyes to pain he had caused his mother while growing up, which causes or influences his decision to continue living his human life as Shiori's son.
Kurama is first introduced to the series with Hiei and Goki (Gouki in the English anime, Goki in the English manga). Together they stole three powerful artifacts from Spirit World, which Yusuke Urameshi has to retrieve as his first assignment as Spirit Detective. Kurama stole the Forlorn Hope (Mirror of Darkness in the manga), a mirror that has the power to grant its user a wish during the full moon in exchange for their life. Upon meeting Kurama, Yusuke finds out that Kurama has no intention of using the mirror to cause harm, but only wishes to use its power to save his mother from an illness. Kurama would have certainly died after making the wish if Yusuke did not intervene asking the mirror to take his life instead. Moved by Yusuke's selfless act, the Forlorn Hope granted Kurama's wish without taking any life. As thanks, Kurama aids Yusuke in defeating Hiei, taking a blow from Hiei's sword and blinding Hiei's Jagan Eye with his own blood. After Yusuke is assigned with Kazuma Kuwabara to eliminate the four Saint Beasts, Kurama and Hiei join them as reparation for their crimes against Spirit World. Kurama faces off against the stone beast Genbu, and reveals his rose whip for the first time. He is injured in the process, but ultimately finds Genbu's weak spot, and then supports the others as they make their way through the castle.
Kurama joins with the other protagonists to form Team Urameshi when Toguro issues his challenge, and fights increasingly difficult battles. Kurama's first fight is against Roto, of team Rokuyokai (Jolly Devil Six in the English Manga). It becomes obvious that he has Roto outclassed when Roto pulls a dirty trick: he reveals that he has a partner that is stalking Kurama's mother, and will kill her when he receives a signal. Kurama, supposedly realizing that he can do nothing, takes Roto's attacks. However, in a brief act of defiance, he is able to embed a Death Plant seed into Roto's body using a diversion, and paralyzes his opponent. Crushing the transmitter, Kurama then causes the plant to bloom, killing Roto instantly.
During the third battle of the Dark Tournament, against Team Masho, Kurama first squares off against Gama, a demon who fights using paint made out of his own blood. He first causes seals to appear on Kurama's arms and legs, making them extremely heavy and cutting down on his mobility, thus making him unable to conventionally wield his rose whip, but he managed to slash Gama by using his own hair in wielding his signature whip. Just before he dies, Gama uses his blood to create his most powerful seal, locking in Kurama's demon energy inside him, leaving him at the mercy of the next fighter to enter the ring: Touya.
Touya easily gains the upper hand, and Kurama takes several wounds from the shinobi. Not wanting to lose this match, he plants the death seed within himself, enabling him to release it from inside him, impaling Touya. The third member of Team Masho, the sadistic Bakken, pummels the unconscious Kurama mercilessly until Yusuke threatens to kill him with a spirit-gun blast unless he stops. Kurama is then thrown out of the ring as Yusuke takes over.
Then, while fighting Ura Urashima of Team Uratogi (Fractured Fairy Tales in the English manga), Ura Urashima uses an item called The Reverse Treasure Box (Reverse Magic Box in English Manga, Idun Box in the English Dub) which is meant to be used to transform Kurama into a helpless child. However, it goes back too far, transforming Kurama back into his original form of Yōko Kurama. Since his personality has also reverted to what is was before becoming a human, Kurama became completely emotionless and ruthless. He threatened to torture Ura Urashima into telling him the secrets of the box so he can continue to transform, when Shishiwakamaru breaks the barrier that was keeping the smoke inside the arena. The smoke gone, Kurama goes back to his human body and is the winner of the match, but is still obsessed with the secrets of the box. The last opponent Kurama faces in this tournament is Karasu, a man with an obsessive desire to kill Kurama. Knowing that he cannot defeat Karasu in his human form, Kurama seeks a way to transform himself back into his old yōko self. Suzuki of Team Uraotogi gives Kurama some potion made from the Fruit of the Past Life (from either Spirit World or Demon World, depending upon whether the source is the English or Japanese version) that he used to make the Reverse Treasure Box.
After testing it, Kurama finds out that it will make him transform into yōko, but only for fifteen minutes. Kurama takes some of the potion before his battle with Karasu, but it does not take effect until after he is badly injured. However, the potion's effect wears off even before the fifteen minutes are over. Karasu manages to severely injure Kurama in his human form, but Kurama unleashes a blood-sucking plant on Karasu, ending Karasu's life. However, Kurama does not die as he expected because each time he drank the potion, the effect does not last as long because he regained some of his original demon strength, and this enabled him to survive. Due to a technicality, he is declared the loser of the match because he was unable to get up before the count was over.
Kurama is cool, calm and collected for a majority if the time he is shown in Yuyu Hakusho, and proves that he is indeed an extremely capable fighter. Hiei even states during the course of Kurama's first battle in the series against Genbu of the Four Saint Beasts that he would much rather fight with him than against him, something that alarmed Kuwabara as Hiei was a lightning quick swordsman and famous for the amount of power he could conjure up with his flame based techniques. Kurama uses plants to fight most of his enemies, and definitely doesn't fall under the generic stereotype of being all around nearly useless for fighting. Kurama has proven that he is indeed a front line fighter and, though very much reliable on tactics to win his fights, he is also just as capable a fighter as Yusuke and Kuwabara and Hiei, though his plant minions generally do the work. A majority of his fighting style as Youko Kurama relies on illusions and having his plants fight for him, often in a parasiticf way. His main weapon is not those plants, however, as he actually bases his fighting style off of the Rose Whip that he has hidden in his hair. This tactic is probably to convince people that he is somewhat physically weak as a fighter by coming off with pinkish clothing and a fragile body structure, or so it would seem. He has shown that in the end, despite his human qualities and caring, he can still most definitely be as ruthless as a demon, showing that when push came to shove he was willing to kill anyone, even a small child as shown in the Black Chapter saga. However, he is also a serious avenger, as in the very next chapter he killed the opponent he had to face that put him into a position that he would have to kill the child. This was one of the few instances where he was actually shown to have any emotion other than kindness, going into a brutal rage, but then, the mind reading opponent he faced was confused as his thoughts went silent, showing that he is able to avoid telepathy.
In the Philippine dubbing of its anime Yu Yu Hakusho (known in the Philippines as Ghost Fighters), Kurama is known as Dennis. At first, it was stated that she was a woman and also was voiced with a feminine voice. After some episodes when the four of them are having their first mission together, He revealed that he was actually a man and was only disguising as a woman.