After he had attended Oakcrest High School ( USA) and Karlberg School in Åmål, Tolgfors studied political science at Örebro University.
Sten was Tolgfors 1990-1995 board member of the youth wing of the Moderate Party. Community structure, he became involved in this period from 1991 to 1994, as a member of the City Council of Örebro. Professionally, he was from 1991 to 1994 worked as a consultant at the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. In 1994 he became a member of the Swedish Parliament, which he is to this day. He became a member of the board of Coalition Party in 2002. From 2002 to 2003 he was spokesman for his party in matters of social security and from 2003 to 2006 issues of education policy. In 2006, he was then Minister for Foreign Trade and was since 2007 as a successor to Defense Minister Mikael Odenberg Sweden.
On 29 March 2012, he resigned after Sveriges Radio had uncovered the involvement of the Ministry's research institute FOI in planning to build a weapons factory in Saudi Arabia.