Born in Bergamo, he studied at the Jesuit college in Monza, entered the order, and was appointed in 1755 professor of eloquence in the University of Milan. There he produced (1766–1768) Vetera humiliatorum monumenta (3 vols), a history of the extinct order of the Humiliati, which made his literary reputation.
Nominated in 1770 as librarian to Francis III, duke of Modena, he turned to account the copious materials there accumulated for the composition of his Storia della letteratura italiana. This vast work, in which Italian literature from the time of the Etruscans to the end of the 17th century is traced in detail, occupied eleven years, 1771–1782, and the thirteen quarto volumes embodying it appeared successively in Modena during that period.
A second enlarged edition (16 vols) was issued from 1787 to 1794, and was succeeded by many others, besides abridgments in German, French and English. Tiraboschi died in Modena on 3 June 1794, leaving a high reputation for virtue, learning and piety.
Tiraboschi also wrote, among many other works:
He edited the Nuovo giornale dei letterati d'Italia (1773–1790), and left materials for a work of great research entitled Dizionario topografico-storico degli stati estensi (2 vols, 1824–1825),