The station was initially opened as a main line station on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway in 1885, on a new branch connecting London with Southend by a more direct route than the existing service via Rainham. Dagenham was already served by a station on the original route at Dagenham Dock, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the south. The new station was opened as Dagenham, with the main station buildings on the up platform, which is now disused. From 1902 to 1905 the station was served by trains of the District Railway, who connected to the main line at a junction at Bow. The station was in a rural location until the building of the Becontree estate, of which it was on the eastern perimeter. An additional station was opened at Heathway in 1932 and Dagenham East was renamed to its current name in 1949.
The station was refurbished by Metronet in 2006 as part of a series of improvements to the London Underground. These works included the installation of CCTV, provision of customer help points connected to a control room, a new public address system, electronic customer information displays on platforms and in the ticket hall, and the erection of new enclosed waiting areas. Ticket barriers are in operation. The station has three working platforms that are used by the District line, one for each direction of travel and another for terminating trains from central London during peak times. The station is in London fare zone 5
Connections: London Buses routes 103 and 364 serve the station.