The oldest village in the municipality is Järsi, which was first mentioned in historical records in 1253. The first information about the existence of a small manor, Tamsal, dates back to 1512. The development of the present town started with building the Tallinn-Tartu railway in 1876. A settlement started to grow around the railway station in the territory owned by the manor. The rural municipality was re-established on 10 October 1991 by a decree of the Supreme Soviet of Estonia. Tamsalu was given country town rights in 1954 and town rights on 22 October 1996. Since 2006, it is Tamsalu Rural Municipality.