Brownwood is on Pecan Bayou at the intersection of US highways 67, 84, and 377, Farm Road 2524, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in south central Brown County, of which it is the seat. The city and the county are named for Henry Stevenson Brown.
In the 1980s important businesses included meat packing, commercial printing, and the manufacture of plumbing fixtures, leather gloves, oilfield machinery and construction equipment. In 2000, with the development of other county communities, the Brownwood-Early area held only 57 percent of Brown County's population, but the city remained an important distributing center for the county and the region.
Area attractions include Lake Brownwood State Recreation Area, Camp Bowie Memorial Park, and the Brown County Museum of History.