Meyerhof was born in Hanover as the son of wealthy Jewish parents. He spent most of his childhood in Berlin, where he later started studying medicine. He continued these studies in Strasbourg and Heidelberg, and graduated in 1909, with a work titled "Contributions to the psychological Theory of mental illness". In Heidelberg, he met Hedwig Schallenberg, who later became his wife. They had a daughter and two sons.
In 1912, he moved to the University of Kiel, where he became professor in 1918. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with Archibald Vivian Hill, for his work on muscle metabolism, including glycolysis. 1929 he became one of the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research until 1938. Fleeing the Nazi regime, he moved to Paris in 1938, then to the U.S. in 1940, where he became a guest professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Meyerhof died in Philadelphia at the age of 67 of a heart attack. He died of pneumonia... he was in his nursing home and a guest fed him. he had parkinson's disease but the guest didn't know. he ate the bite and food went into his lungs which cause immediate pneumonia.