Oyodo was laid down at Kure Naval Arsenal on 14 February 1941, launched on 2 April 1942 and completed 28 February 1943. Her chief equipping officer and first commander was Captain Sadatoshi Tomioka. However, by the time of her completion, the role for which Oyodo was designed no longer existed. Instead, the Japanese navy made use of her long range and anti-aircraft capability as an escort for carrier groups. Originally completed without any radar, a Type 21 radar set was installed in March 1943.
After her working-up period, on 15 July 1943 Oyodo arrived at Truk, Caroline Islands, the Japanese Navy's main fleet base in the Pacific, and continued on to Rabaul to deliver reinforcements and supplies. In mid-September, In response to American carrier aircraft raiding in the Gilbert Islands, Oyodo sortied with Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's fleet to engage the American carriers. The fleet consisted of the aircraft carriers Shokaku, Zuikaku and Zuiho, the battleships Yamato and Nagato, heavy cruisers Myoko, Haguro, Tone, Chikuma, Mogami, Atago, Takao, Chokai and Maya, the light cruiser Agano and fifteen destroyers. Despite extensive searches, this force failed to make contact with the American striking force and returned to Truk. A second mission in mid-October likewise failed to produce any results.
On 30 December 1943, Oyodo participated in an operation to reinforce the garrisons at Rabaul and Kavieng. Oyodo had became the flagship of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's Third Fleet on 6 December. While returning to Truk on 1 January 1944, Oyodo was slightly damaged by US aircraft of Task Group 50.2, with two crewmen killed and six wounded. The following day, she rescued 71 survivors from the transport Kiyosumi Maru, which had been torpedoed by an American submarine. She returned to Yokosuka on 16 February following the successful American invasion of Kwajalein, and loaded torpedoes and supplies for the Japanese garrison at Saipan, which were delivered on 22 February.