The town lies on the Emssandebene plain, south-west of the Teutoburg Forest and on the north-eastern edge of the Westphalian basin and has no significant points of elevation. The town's lowest point is above sea level on the river Ems near the British Army's Princess Royal Barracks and the highest point is above sea level in the village of Friedrichsdorf to the east.
In the area of the county boundary with Rheda-Wiedenbrück is the Rhedaer Forest, a large wooded area with predominantly coniferous trees. The river Dalke flows through the town from east to west, crossing close to the municipal park (Stadtpark) as well as the town centre and river Ems.
Gütersloh hosts the headquarters of two of Germany's biggest business corporations: Bertelsmann (media) and Miele (domestic appliances).