Goku meets Upa and his father Bora the very first time he ventures to Korin Tower, during the Commander Red Saga. After his father was killed by Mercenary Tao, Upa tries desperately to fight Tao himself twice to avenge his father; the first attempt was by throwing a rock at him as Tao was leaving, in which Tao easily blows the rock back at Upa, which hits him on his head. The second time was by flinging an axe aimed at Mercenary Tao's head, just as he returned to the Korin's Tower base area. Tao however dodges this with ease and then kicks Upa upwards into the air and instantly grabs him with one hand, whilst demanding Upa tells him where the Four-Star Dragon Ball is. After Upa refuses to tell him, Mercenary Tao flings Upa towards the pole of Korin's Tower. He is then luckily saved by Goku, who returns from his training with Korin.Upa later accompanies Goku for a short time during the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, in order to recover all of the Dragon Balls so they can wish his father back to life. He participates in the fight against Fortuneteller Baba's fighters and helps Puar defeat Fangs the Vampire (a kickboxing vampire) with garlic breath. It is interesting to note that when Krillin first meets Upa, he thinks that Upa is a cute girl. He is disgusted when he finds out otherwise and apologizes to Upa.
After Bora is revived, Upa tells his father that he will climb Korin's Tower also. It is never revealed whether or not he succeeded.
Upa and Bora later appear once again when Yajirobe brings a beaten Goku to Korin Tower.
Although Korin himself becomes a recurring character in Dragon Ball Z, providing the Z-Fighters with Senzu Beans, Upa and Bora are not seen again except for two instances: once during the Saiyan Saga where he and his father encounter an angry Launch stealing from their tipi, and once more near the end of Dragon Ball Z when they are giving energy for Goku's Super Spirit Bomb to defeat Kid Buu.