When Mendeleev compiled its first periodic table, left two vacancies in the manganese group, that constituted the only well-known element of this sub-group for a long time. The work of Moseley confirmed the existence of these two vacancies corresponding to the atomic numbers 43 and 75. One of these vacancies would only be filled in 1925 by W. Noddack, Ida Tacke and O. Berg, after the examination of the X-ray spectrum of certain platinum and niobium ores. They called this new element as "rhenium", from the Latin designation of Rhine (Rhenus).

Four years after its discovery, 1 g of rhenium from 660 g of molybdenite was isolated. Shortly after its properties began to be carefully studied and its production began in Germany.