Boy was the first of three albums to be produced by Steve Lillywhite and was released in October 1980. The original sleeve featured the 'boy' Peter Rowan but Warner Bros, fearing controversy, released a different album cover in North America, featuring a stretched and distorted picture of the band. Other releases of note around the world included the original 12" vinyl of Boy in Japan - withdrawn after a few months and re-issued on the Polystar label. In several countries, Boy was also re-issued on 5" CD in April 1995 as part of the Island Master series. This Island Masters re-issue featured higher quality paper and extra pictures from the original LP's inner sleeve. On the heels of the UK and Ireland release of Boy, in Sweden they released a limited blue vinyl pressing, with identical sleeves and catalog number to the UK edition.
Boy was voted Best Album, Best Debut Album, and Best Album Sleeve in the Hot Press Irish National Poll Results. It peaked at No. 52 on the UK album charts and No. 63 on the US album charts. In the US, it was certified platinum by the RIAA.
A digitally remastered edition of Boy was released in 2008.