Rhône-et-Loire was a département of France whose préfecture (capital) was Lyon. Created on March 4, 1790 like the other French départements, Rhône-et-Loire was abolished on August 12, 1793 when it was split into two départements: Rhône (préfecture: Lyon) and Loire (préfecture: Feurs, then Montbrison, then now Saint-Étienne). The division of Rhône-et-Loire was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon which, by population, was the country's second largest city. By splitting Rhône-et-Loire, which was the natural economic and, potentially, military hinterland of Lyon, the government sought to protect the French Revolution from the potential power and influence of the counter revolutionary revolt in the Lyon region.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Rhône département was enlarged several times by incorporating into it areas from neighboring départements, so that today the two départements of Rhône and Loire combined are larger than the former Rhône-et-Loire département.
If Rhône-et-Loire still existed, its population at the 1999 French census would have been 1,799,812 inhabitants, whereas in 1999 the Rhône département had 1,578,869 inhabitants, and the Loire département had 728,524 inhabitants.