Jastrebarsko has derived its name from the Croatian word for 'hawk' or ‘falcon’ (jastreb), due to the falconry practices in the area. A trace of this tradition can be seen in the Jastrebarsko coat of arms, featuring a yellow goshawk on a blue background. The first mention of “Jastraburcza", described as a trade and judicial centre, is found in a 1249 document of the Croatian ban Stjepan Gutkeled.
In 1257 Croato-Hungarian King Bela IV awarded Jastrebarsko the status of a “free royal trading centre” which shielded the town from the appetites of local feudal lords.
From 1518 to 1848 Jastrebarsko was heavily influenced by the Croat-Hungarian noble family Erdody which was victorious against the spreading Ottoman Empire. From 1809 to 1813, during the expansion of Napoleon`s First French Empire, Jastrebarsko was temporarily incorporated in the Illyrian Provinces.
Jastrebarsko started rapid development following the 1848 abolishment of feudalism. In 1865 the Zagreb-Karlovac railway was built, providing the town with a major source of employment. The local elementary school, founded in the 17th century, was augmented by a number of other cultural, social and sports organizations, including a library, the singing society "Javor", the association of tamburica players, a volunteer fire brigade, a theatre and others.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Jastrebarsko was a district capital in the Zagreb Country of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slovenia.
The town was the site of a concentration camp for Serb children operated by the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia during World War II.