By early April 1944, Stavka (Main Command of the Soviet Armed Forces) ordered its two major units involved in operations in south-western Ukraine to mount a strategic offensive in north-eastern Romania. Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front approached Târgu Frumos and Botoșani regions by 5 April and commenced its offensive towards Târgu Frumos on 8 April. The Romanian 4th Army, charged with the defense of the region, was being reinforced by German panzer elements of the 24th Panzer Division and was preparing to hold an initial Soviet advance. However, these defenses proved to be no match for the Soviet assault on the town and by the next day Târgu Frumos had been secured by two 27th Army rifle divisions. Meanwhile, the German Eighth Army command responded rapidly by ordering Hasso von Manteuffel's Großdeutschland Panzergrenadier division to move towards Târgu Frumos and recapture the town. By the evening of 10 April, 48 hours after receiving the initial order, Großdeutschland succeeded in retaking the town and establishing new defensive positions there. Sporadic battles with Soviet elements remaining in the region continued until 12 April, as they were facing the danger of encirclement.
Following the end of the battle, the Germans formed a new defensive line northwest and northeast of the town and maintained a tank regiment as reserve near Târgu Frumos proper. Meanwhile, irked by the defeat suffered at Târgu Frumos, Konev ordered the 2nd Tank Army to commence on 12 April an offensive towards the village of Podu Iloaiei.
On 5 March 1944, Colonel General Ivan Konev, commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, commenced the Uman–Botoşani Offensive operation in the Ukraine. This operation succeeded in separating Army Group North's First Panzer Army from Army Group South 8th Army by 17 March; by early April Soviet units approached the Romanian border.
Starting with early April 1944, Stavka ordered the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts to mount a major offensive with strategic implications in western Romania. Stavka's strategic intentions were to break German and Romanian strategic defenses in northern Romania, capture the key cities of Iași and Chișinău, and afterwards project forces deep into Romanian territory, if possible as deep as Ploiești and Bucharest. By 5 April, Konev's front had crossed the upper reaches of Dniester and Prut Rivers, captured Khotyn and Dorohoi, and approached Târgu Frumos and Botoșani regions—30 miles (48 km)–60 miles (97 km) northwest of Iași—facing only light Romanian resistance. On 8 April 1944, Konev ordered the 27th and 40th Armies to conduct a coordinated offensive southward along the Târgu Frumos axis, in close cooperation with Semyon Bogdanov's 2nd Tank Army. While Konev's shock group was advancing towards Târgu Frumos, Konstantin Koroteev's 52nd Army and elements of Andrei Gravchenko's 6th Tank Army, which were operating north of Iași, were conducting operations alongside the Iași axis in order to support Konev's main effort.
As Konev's armies prepared to launch their offensive toward Târgu Frumos, Otto Wöhler's German Eighth Army was involved in the heavy fighting taking place in and around the village of Popricani, 9 miles (14 km) north of Iași, where two Soviet corps were fighting with armored kampfgruppen, distracting the Germans' attentions and forces away from the critical Târgu Frumos sector. Exploiting the 52nd Army diversionary operations in the Iași region, the three armies of Konev's shock group began advancing southwards early in the morning of 8 April. The advance was quite slow due to mud-clogged roads during the rasputitsa, as well as crossing to the west bank of the Prut River northwest of Iași.