Built at the Zeppelin Company works (Luftschiffbau Zeppelin) in Friedrichshafen am Bodensee, Germany, between 1926 and 1928, the design of the LZ-127 was patterned on that of the LZ-126 which the company had delivered as a war reparation to the U.S. Navy at NAS Lakehurst, NJ in October 1924 where it was commissioned as the USS Los Angeles (ZR-3). With that project completed, the Zeppelin company's chairman Dr. Hugo Eckener promptly began a two year campaign of lobbying the German Government for funds and permission to proceed with construction of a new airship for Germany. Construction began in 1926 with the aid of a government grant although the majority of the necessary 2,000,000 Reichsmarks (RM) in funding would eventually be raised by public subscription. The LZ 127 was completed and launched in September 1928.
Der Graf Zeppelin war 236,6 m lang, hatte einen Durchmesser von 30,5 m und ein Traggas-Volumen von 105.000 m³. Er wurde in Friedrichshafen von der Luftschiffwerft Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH gebaut. Kommandant Hugo Eckener stellte das Luftschiff am 18. September 1928 für die DELAG in Dienst.