Mabelvale was a small, unincorporated train station town in southwestern Pulaski County, Arkansas, until being annexed into Little Rock following a special election that was held on May 3, 1973. The area today is part of Little Rock's seventh ward, although it retains a separate postal designation and ZIP code  from most of the rest of the city. The neighborhood is currently represented on Little Rock's City Board of Directors by Brenda "B.J." Wyrick.
The neighborhood is generally defined as the homes and businesses in the immediate area surrounding the intersection of Mabelvale Main Street and the Union Pacific railroad line. However, its location on the southwestern fringe of Little Rock proper — as well as its proximity to unincorporated communities, to other neighborhoods in Southwest Little Rock, and to adjoining towns such as Shannon Hills which share the ZIP code — often leads to varying definitions of Mabelvale's boundaries. Even so, most would agree that the area generally referred to contemporarily as Mabelvale spans multiple counties: while primarily located in Pulaski County, some of its areas spill over into neighboring Saline County.
Most major community services are linked with the various governmental departments of the City of Little Rock. The city's street department maintains all streets in Little Rock's incorporated parts of Mabelvale, notably Mabelvale Main Street, Mabelvale Cut-Off Road, and Mabelvale West Road — three of the neighborhood's busier paths. Little Rock Fire Station #18, which provides fire protection for the area, is located on Mabelvale West Road. Police service is covered by the Little Rock Police Department's Southwest Substation on Baseline Road. Public transportation is provided by bus service on the Central Arkansas Transit Authority's Route #17.
Three Little Rock School District campuses are located around the neighborhood, providing education from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. Mabelvale Elementary School is located on Mabelvale Cut-Off Road across the street from Morehart Park and has served the area since opening in 1980.