Lee M. Hollander, in his introduction to his translation of the poem, claims that it was in no sense a popular lay and suggests we should not necessarily believe that the accusations of the "sly god" were an accepted part of the lore. Nevertheless the poem provides a great deal of incidental and secondary information about the gods, their doings and their propensities: the character of Loki (particularly in this poem) was to the Norsemen what a contemporary gossip columnist is to modern society, both mischievous and muck-raking.
The setting is a feast given by the sea god Aegir. Thor did not attend, however his wife Sif came in his stead as did Bragi and his wife Iduna. Tyr, by this time one-handed as a consequence of his sacrifice of his hand in the shackling of Loki's son, the wolf Fenrir attended, as did Niord and his wife Skadi, Freyr and Freya, as well as Vithar, the son of Odin. Many other Vanir, Aesir, and also elves were there.
The servants of Aegir, Fimafeng and Eldir did a thorough job of welcoming the guests; Loki was jealous of the praise being heaped upon them and slew Fimafeng. The gods were angry with Loki and drove him out of the hall, before returning to their carousing. On returning Loki encountered Eldir.
He threatened him and bade him reveal what the gods were talking about in their cups. Eldir's response was that they were discussing their might at arms, and that Loki was persona non grata.
Loki then enters the hall of Aegir after trading insults and threats with Eldir. A hush fell. Loki calls upon the rules of hospitality, demanding a seat and ale. Bragi then responds that he is unwelcome. Loki demands fulfillment of an ancient oath sworn with Odin that they should drink together. Odin asked his son Vithar to make a space for Loki.
Vithar rose and poured a drink for Loki. Before Loki drains his draught, he utters a toast to the god but pointedly excludes Bragi from it. Bragi offers Loki a horse, a ring and a sword to placate him; Loki, however, is spoiling for a fight, and insults Bragi by questioning his courage. Bragi's response is that it would be contrary to the rules of correct behaviour to fight within his hosts hall, but were they back in Asgard then things would be different. Loki goads Bragi again:
Eventually Thor turns up at the party, and he is not to be placated, nor witheld.
Loki is chased by the gods, his son Vali is turned into a wolf who kills his brother Narvi. The entrails are used to bind Loki three times around to a rock above which Skathi places a serpent to drip venom on him. Loki's wife Sigyn remains by his side with a bowl to catch the venom, however whenever she empties the bowl, venom falls on Loki, causing him to writhe in agony; these writhings were said to be the cause of earthquakes.
Interestingly, the Lokasenna does not directly state that Loki's binding is as a consequence of the killing of Baldur, a logical corollary which many have subsequently drawn.