The son of Louis, 4th duc de Noailles, he was in the army for a period. However, his eminence as a chemist gained him the election as a member of the Académie des sciences in 1777. He was a Knight of Golden Fleece.
He became duc d'Ayen in 1766 on his grandfather's death, and duc de Noailles on his father's in 1793. Having emigrated in 1792, he lived in Switzerland until the Restoration in 1814, when he took his seat as a peer of France.
His first wife, Anne-Louise-Henriette d'Aguessau, bore eight daughters, of which five survived to adulthood. The names of the surviving daughters (and their titles by marriage) were:
Anne Jeanne Baptiste Louise (1758-1794), who married her cousin the Viscomte d'Ayen
Françoise Antoinette Louise (1763-1788), Comtesse de Thezan du Pourjol
Anne Pauline Dominique (1766-1839), Marquise de Pouzols
Angélique Françoise d'Assise Rosalie (1767-1833), Marquise de Grammont
As a member of the royal military the Duke was away from his estates during much of the French revolution and was not present for the death of his father, upon which he became the Duke de Noailles. His absence spared him being arrested along with most of his relatives on orders of Robespierre in May 1794. On July 22 of that year his 70 year old mother (the dowager Duchess Francoise de Noailles), his wife (the Duchess Anne-Louise-Henriette), their eldest daughter Louise (the Viscomte d'Ayen [by virtue of marriage to her cousin Marc Antoine de Noaille]), and their second daughter, Adrienne de la Fayette, were condemned to the guillotine; Adrienne was spared at the last moment (possibly due to American intervention- there is debate) only after her grandmother, mother, and sister were beheaded within her sight. The Duke learned of their deaths weeks later; his family lost many other members including two of his uncles and numerous cousins and in-laws during the Revolution.
The Duke went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland for the remainder of the War, returning to France and his ravaged estates after Napoleon and the Directory restored some order. Through the efforts of his daughter the Marquise de la Fayette, whose husband's family also suffered greatly in the Revolution, some part of his once immense fortune was restored. Although the duke remarried, he had no further children and was survived by only one of his eight daughters. Having no son and having survived his nephews, he was succeeded as duc de Noailles by his grand-nephew, Paul.