In 1897, Van Helsing is called in by his former student, Dr. John Seward, to assist with the mysterious illness of Lucy Westenra. Van Helsing's friendship with Seward is based in part upon a prior event in which Van Helsing suffered a grievous wound and Seward saved his life by sucking out the gangrene. It is Van Helsing who first realizes that Lucy is the victim of a vampire and he guides Dr. Seward and his friends in their efforts to save Lucy.
Van Helsing had a son who died. Van Helsing says that his son, had he lived, would have had a similar appearance to Arthur Holmwood. Consequently, Van Helsing developed a particular fondness of Holmwood. Van Helsing's wife went insane after their son's death, but as a devout Catholic, he refuses to divorce her.
In addition to this, Van Helsing has a well-developed, albeit ironic, sense of humor. When Arthur Holmwood mournfully proclaims that the transfusion of his blood into the dying Lucy Westenra made her truly his bride, Van Helsing laughs and tells Jack Seward that if such is the case, both Van Helsing and Lucy are guilty of adultery, as Arthur was not alone in donating blood; Seward, his friend Quincey Morris, and Van Helsing himself had each given as well.
Count Dracula, having acquired ownership of England’s Carfax Abbey through solicitor Jonathan Harker, moved to the abbey and began menacing England. His victims included Lucy Westernra, who lived in Whitby.
The aristocratic girl has suitors such as John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris, and has a best friend in Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker’s fiancée. Seward, who worked as a doctor in an insane asylum — where one of his patients, the incurably mad Renfield secretly serves Dracula— contacts Van Helsing about Lucy Westenra’s peculiar loss of blood. Van Helsing, recognizing the mark of the vampire, tries to save Lucy, but she dies and returns as a vampire. Eventually, Van Helsing and a heartbroken Arthur destroy the vampiric Lucy.
Van Helsing and his band of vampire hunters pursue Dracula back to Transylvania. There, they chase him down the Borgo Pass and corner him. Armed with knives, Jonathan Harker and Quincey Morris decapitate Dracula and impale his heart. Dracula's body then crumbles to dust.
Later, Van Helsing takes a grandfatherly role in regard to the young Quincey Harker, Jonathan and Mina's son.