Tatiana Romanova is introduced as a corporal in Soviet Army Intelligence, assigned to work in the Soviet Embassy in Istanbul as a cipher clerk. Her superiors, in connection with a SMERSH, plan to sow dissent in the intelligence community by murdering and discrediting a significant figure in western intelligence. This was to be achieved by the murder of James Bond.
Her commanding officer is Rosa Klebb who manipulates her into believing that she is on an important mission for her country, when she is in fact merely a pawn in the terrorist organization's latest bid to destroy the British Secret Service.
Klebb is actually a member of the Soviet government, commander in chief of the Otdyel II section of the SMERSH. Thus, Romanova works for the Soviets, who assign her the mission of seducing Bond and having him take her to England to deliver a SPEKTOR code machine, as well as plant false information, before being rescued from a political prison and returned to Russia.
Once in Istanbul, she contacts Darko Kerim and tells him her plans: she would willingly defect from the Soviet Union and take with her the precious LEKTOR/SPEKTOR only if Bond assisted the operation. She claimed that she had fallen in love with the man from a picture she had seen in a secret file and wanted to live with him.
Both M and Bond believe this to be a trap, but the prize is valuable enough to go for it. They react just as the main instigator of the plot, chess champion Kronsteen, had predicted. Bond then flies to Istanbul and contacts Kerim, spending several days there, waiting for contact. After a riot at a Gypsy camp, Bond returns to his hotel room and finds Romanova walking across the room and getting into his bed, wearing only a black velvet choker and black stockings. They make love, but are secretly filmed by Klebb's minions via a one-way mirror. This tape is explicitly planned to be used to embarrass MI6.
Unlike other Bond girls Tatiana has had sexual experience before meeting Bond. She tells Rosa Klebb that she has had intercourse with three different men. She apparently styled her hair after Swedish born actress Greta Garbo.