Settlement of the area dates from the 1840s, with land used mainly for grazing. Population was minimal until the 1850s when the area was used for market gardens and orchards. Growth took place in the early 1900s and during the interwar period. Significant development occurred in the post-war years, particularly during the 1950s. The population increased gradually from the mid 1990s as new dwellings were added to the area, particularly medium density housing.
Bentleigh East is an established residential area, with an industrial area in the north, and some commercial areas along Centre Road.
Major features of the area include Monash Medical Centre (Moorabbin Campus), Yarra Yarra Golf Club, Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre, Virginia Park Industrial Estate, Bailey Reserve, Centenary Park, King George VI Memorial Reserve, Mackie Road Reserve, Marlborough Street Reserve, Moorleigh Reserve, Virginia Park, Camelot Traffic School, Moorabbin Reservoir and a number of schools.