The station was opened as Acton on 1 August 1853 by the North and South Western Junction Railway (N&SWJR), but was renamed Acton Central on 1 November 1925. The N&SWJR was leased jointly to the London and North Western Railway (LNWR), the Midland Railway (MR) and the North London Railway (NLR) from 1871, but only the NLR operated passenger trains on the N&SWJR until operation of the NLR (and thus of the N&SWJR also) was taken over by the LNWR in 1909. Under the terms of the Railways Act 1921, the LNWR and MR amalgamated (together with some others) at the start of 1923 to form the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, which then absorbed both the NLR and the N&SWJR. The line then passed on to the London Midland Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948. Between 1875 and 1902 it was connected with St Pancras via the Dudding Hill Line, which branches off the North London Line between Acton Central and Willesden Junction. Harlesden (Midland) railway station was the next stop on the line north. The Dudding Hill Line is still open today, but only carries freight.
Acton's name derives from the Old English words āc (oak) and tūn (farm), meaning "oak farm" or "farm by oak trees". For several centuries, its name bore the prefix Church (hence Chirche Acton, Churche Acton, etc.) to distinguish it from the separate hamlet of East Acton. Landholders figuring in county records were resident by 1222 and houses were recorded from the late 13th century. The main settlement, Church Acton or Acton town, lay slightly west of the centre of the parish along the highway to Oxford (Uxbridge Road) at the 5-mile post out of London. By 1380 some of the tenements, such as The Tabard and The Cock, along the south side of the road, were inns. The hamlet of East Acton, mentioned in 1294, consisted of farmhouses and cottages north and south of common land known as East Acton green by 1474. Acton Central was in Zone 2 until 2 January 2008 when it was deemed in Travelcard Zone 3. In 2011, the platforms were lengthened to allow longer trains.The station has wi-fi, boarding ramps, payphones and no toilets.
Connections: London Buses routes 70, 207, 266 and 607 and night routes N7 and N207 serve the station.