Vijayakanth was born as Vijayaraj on 25 August 1952 in Tirumangalam,Madurai to K. N. Alagarswami and Andal. Alagarswami was Madurai's Councillor for two terms. He married Premalatha on 31 January 1990 and has two sons, Vijay Prabhakar and Shanmuga Pandian. Upon entering the film industry to pursue an acting career, director Khaja (who directed his first film) changed his name to "Amirtaraj" and then "Vijayakanth", dropping the "raj" out of his name and suffixing "kanth". He has also been nicknamed "Captain" and "Puratchi Kalaignar". He is known as "Karuppu MGR" among his fans. 2011 Tamilnadu election his party DMDK won 29 seats out of 41 contested seats and he became the leader of opposition.
Vijayakanth did part of his schooling at M. C. School in Madurai. He later switched over to Devakottai De Britto High School where he was an inmate. Vijayakanth's confidant, Munish Kumar Yellugari, Ibrahim Ravuthar were his school friends. He later switched to St. Marys School, Vickramasingapuram, Tamilnadu,and studied upto 8th standard.