Being the third in The Gauntlet series, The Gauntlet III marked the show's 2nd trilogy (Inferno III is the first), continuing on from The Gauntlet (7th season) and The Gauntlet 2 (11th season). The season was filmed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with former cast members from The Real World and Road Rules competing, along with several cast members from the Fresh Meat challenge. This season was in the format of two teams: Veterans vs. Rookies, with a format similar to The Gauntlet 2. The contestants on the Veterans team had been on at least two prior seasons of the Challenge, and the contestants on the Rookies team had been on fewer than two prior seasons.
The competition consists of a series of team challenges (sometimes called "missions") with an elimination challenge, known as the "Gauntlet", following each of the team challenges except the final. Each team challenge puts the team of Veterans against the team of Rookies. Prior to the challenge, it is announced whether males or females will compete in the Gauntlet following the challenge.
After each team challenge, on a male Gauntlet day, the winning team selects a male member of the losing team to protect from the Gauntlet and another male member to send into the Gauntlet. The losing team then selects one of its own males to go against the person picked by the winners. On a female Gauntlet day, the players protected and sent into the Gauntlet are females.
After the two players for the Gauntlet are picked, host T. J. Lavin spins a wheel to determine which challenge will be played in the Gauntlet. The loser of the Gauntlet is eliminated from the game.
In this season, minor prizes are awarded after each challenge to the team members that were not vulnerable to elimination in the following Gauntlet; i.e. on challenges before male Gauntlets, prizes are awarded to female members of the winning team, and vice versa. The grand prize is $300,000, which is split among the remaining members of the team that wins the final challenge.
- No player can be saved from the Gauntlet on two consecutive opportunities. (For example, if the Veterans win the sixth challenge and save Johanna, lose the eighth challenge, and win the tenth challenge, then they cannot save Johanna from the tenth Gauntlet; even though they aren't two consecutive female Gauntlets, they are two consecutive opportunities.)
- No Gauntlet challenge is played twice consecutively.
- This season differs from The Gauntlet 2 in that the teams do not have captains.
- This season differs from most prior two-team Challenges in that there are no bank accounts; prize money is only given for the final challenge.
Host: T. J. Lavin
- Coral quit the game in Episode 7, due to her outcast status on the team, being abandoned by former friend and ally Evan, and being voted into the Gauntlet against Evelyn. Casey volunteered to take Coral's place and was eliminated by Evelyn.
- The Veterans beat out the Rookies in the final challenge, but were disqualified after Eric collapsed and was sent to the hospital midway through the final race. T. J. Lavin explained that a team would only win the Army Strong final challenge if each player was present at the end. Therefore, the Rookies won the Army Strong final challenge by default.
- The Veterans in the final challenge were Adam, Brad, CT, Diem, Eric, Evan, Ev, Kenny, Paula, and Robin.
- Brad, CT, Diem, Eric, Kenny, and Robin were never sent into the Gauntlet.
- The Rookies in the final challenge were Frank, Jillian, Johanna, Nehemiah, Rachel, and Tori.
- Johanna and Rachel were never sent into the Gauntlet.
- In addition; between Frank and Jillian they won all five games in the Gauntlet.
- The Gauntlet III Winner: Rookies (win $300,000 — $50,000 for each player)