The first issue of G.I. Combat was published in October 1952. When NPP acquired the rights to the Quality Comics characters and titles, they continued publishing the book starting with issue #44 in 1957. G.I. Combat was one of very few titles that NPP continued publishing, along with Blackhawk, another war title. Many notable writers and artists worked on G.I. Combat during its run, including Joe Kubert and Neal Adams.
Each issue of G.I. Combat was an anthology book (composed of several short comic stories), a format that continued throughout its run. There were several popular recurring features, including most notably The Haunted Tank, which was featured in G.I. Combat from 1961 to 1987. Other recurring features included "The Bravos of Vietnam" (about US Marines in the Vietnam War) and late in its run, a return to Cold War themes with a short-lived recurring feature about 1980s mercenaries. The title continued uninterrupted for over 30 years, through the transition of NPP to DC Comics. Beginning in 1977, G.I. Combat was DC's only war comic to be upgraded to its "Dollar Comic" line, with additional pages of content beyond the then-standard 32-page format.
By the 1980s, war comics grew less marketable and comic companies began dropping these titles. DC's Sgt. Rock, The Unknown Soldier, and Weird War Tales as well as Marvel Comics' Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos were all discontinued in the 1980s. The final issue was #288 (March 1987)