袋鼠数学竞赛由澳大利亚著名数学家Peter O'Halloran 于1980 年发起。1991 年，法国两位著名数学教育家成立正式竞赛组委会并在欧洲推广该项赛事，为了向Peter O'Halloran 致敬，将该竞赛正式取名为“袋鼠数学竞赛”，全球组委会总部位于法国巴黎。
In the 1980's, Peter O’Halloran, an Australian mathematician and teacher, began a popular mathematical competition in his country. In 1991, this idea was taken up in Paris, France. Very quickly, it spread throughout Europe. The competition began to be called “Kangaroo” because of its Australian origin.
不同于传统数学奥赛强调的高难度和挑战性，袋鼠数学竞赛宗旨是用有趣生动、接近生活的题目，激发孩子们数学学习兴趣及自信，培养学生数学思维，训练学生阅读、理解、分析和解决问题能力，适合各年级各种数学水平同学参加。因此，袋鼠数学竞赛逐步风靡世界，成为全球极具规模的青少年国际数学竞赛，87 个国家和地区举办、每年超过630 万学生参加。传统数学强国例如俄罗斯、德国每年分别有100 万左右青少年参赛，法国、巴西、捷克、波兰等国每年分别超过30 万青少年参赛，西班牙、奥地利、荷兰、瑞典等国家分别超过10 万青少年参赛。袋鼠数学竞赛在美国已经有超过20 年举办历史，每年参赛人数快速递增，尤其在亚裔人口较多的加州每年袋鼠数学考位一位难求。
The main purpose of Math Kangaroo is to promote mathematical thinking and stimulate an interest in math, by providing students with an opportunity to compare their abilities against the abilities of other students, from different countries around the world. It is currently the world’s largest math competition with more than 6.3 million participants from 87 countries in 2019. There are about one million participants in Russia and Germany each year. And more than 0.3 million participants are from France, Brazil, Czech Republic, Poland. More than 0.1 million participants are from Spain, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden and other countries. Math Kangaroo has been held in the United States for more than 20 years, and the number of participants increases rapidly every year, especially in California, where the majority of Asian Americans live, and it is hard to participate in Math Kangaroo every year due to the limited exam centers.