A member of the Talaxian species, Neelix has been many things in his life ; born on Rhinax, a moon of Talax, Neelix had a happy childhood. As a young man he enjoyed many adventured with his sister Alixia, visiting the equatorial dust shrouds, hunting arctic spiders, and venturing into the Caves of Touth.  At eighteen he moved to Talax itself to work on an orbital tether.  When the war with the Hakkonian Order began in 2353 the Talaxians ordered Neelix to serve in the armed forces. Neelix refused on the grounds that the war was unjust. He spent two years evading the authorities on Talax, something which would cause him considerable guilt later in life. The Hakkonian war was ended when the Metreon Cascade was used on Rhinax, destroying almost the entire population. Neelix's parents and sister were killed in the attack. He visited Rhinax shortly after the detonation, and attempted to save the life of a young girl named Palaxia. Unfortunately her injuries were too severe and she died shortly afterwards. Many years later Neelix would meet the creator of the Metreon Cascade, and despite initial hostility was able to forgive him for his actions. After the war Neelix went through a variety of career choices. He served for six years on a Talaxian garbage scow , two years on a Trabalian freighter as an engineer's assistant 
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, and has also worked on a mining colony.  Neelix eventually acquired his own ship and began to work as a trader. In this role he became widely travelled and highly knowledgeable of Delta Quadrant species and their customs. 
By 2371 he was working in the vicinity of the Caretakers array, where he met many of the ships that being had captured in its attempts to reproduce itself. Neelix met Kes on the nearby Ocampa planet, and the two became romantically involved. Unfortunately, Kes was captured by one of the Kazon sects. When Neelix encountered the USS Voyager he tricked Captain Janeway into an away mission to the Kazon camp and was able to free Kes. In return she guided Voyagers crew into the Ocampa city, enabling them to recover two of their crew members. 
Both Neelix and Kes signed aboard Voyager, he as a guide for the ship's journey through the quadrant.  Later he began to employ more of his many talents on board the ship, becoming the cook and morale officer.  Later he added journalism to his repertoire when he began transmitting a daily programme entitled "A Briefing With Neelix" on the ship's communications network. The program dealt mainly with everyday life on board the ship, but in 2372 Neelix was able to use his investigative skills to flush out the traitor Michael Jonas. Jonas, who was anyway suspected by Voyagers chief of security, attempted to kill Neelix to keep his secret. Instead Neelix managed to throw Jonas into a plasma stream, vaporizing him. In 2373 Neelix and Kes ended their relationship, although the two remained friends afterwards.  Neelix suffered something of a personal crisis shortly afterwards when Voyager reached the edge of the Nekrit Expanse. Neelix had never travelled beyond this area, and feared that he was no longer useful to the ships crew and would so be abandoned. This led Neelix to become involved in criminal activity in order to purchase a map of the Expanse, but he was quickly caught. He was ordered to work on Deuterium maintenance for two weeks as punishment. In 2374 Neelix was killed while exploring a protomatter nebula. Seven of Nine was able to revive him using Borg nanoprobes, but this provoked a spiritual crisis for him since he had failed to experience the afterlife his people believed in. Neelix almost committed suicide after the event, but Commander Chakotay was able to convince him that he was still needed aboard the ship. Neelix was very close to the Wildman family and served as Godfather to Naomi Wildman, who frequently refused to go to sleep until he had read her a bedtime story. Although many thousands of light years from his home system, in 2377 Neelix discovered a Talaxian colony on a large asteroid city. He assisted the colony in defending itself from miners determined to break the asteroid up for its materials, and in doing so he came to rethink his position aboard Voyager. Sensing his desire to stay behind, Captain Janeway asked Neelix to become an official Federation ambassador to the Delta Quadrant. He left the ship just weeks before it found the Borg transwarp hub which the ship used to travel back to Earth.