The Paralympic sprinter stands accused of the premeditated murder of Reeva Steenkamp in his home on February 14, 2013. He also faces a gun charge related to the killing, along with two additional gun-related charges for two separate instances of firing a gun in a public space before the killing.
What's the difference between the rules of a trial in South Africa and those in the United States? CNN's Chris Cuomo explains in the video above.
South Africa abolished jury trials in 1969, while the country was under apartheid, due to fears of racial prejudice by white jurors. Pistorius will be tried in a high court in Pretoria by Thokozile Matilda Masipa - the second black woman appointed to the bench since apartheid ended
There's no hard timeline but it's expected to last about three weeks.
For premeditated murder, the mandatory sentence in South Africa is a life sentence, which in practice is 25 years unless someone can prove extraordinary circumstances.
Extraordinary circumstances could include a combination of number of factors: for example, that it was a first offense, the age of the person and in Pistorius' case, his disability and the impact this could have had on his actions.
However, legal expert James Grant said if the court accepted the prosecution's case - that Pistorius chased Steenkamp into the bathroom and "hunted" her down - the track star's defense team would be hard-pressed to convince the court that there should be any considerations that should override the repugnance that should be felt.
If Pistorius is found not guilty, he would face a "competent verdict" or lesser charge of culpable homicide, which is based on negligence.
Pistorius is not claiming self-defense; he is claiming to have been mistaken about his need for self-defense. He is denying that he intentionally unlawfully killed Steenkamp.
Grant said the defense boiled down to Pistorius saying "I made a mistake."
If the court were to rule that the mistake was unreasonable - based on what an objective, ordinary South African would do in the circumstances of the accused - he would be found guilty of culpable homicide.
Grant said he would expect a court to probably conclude that it is unreasonable to fire at anybody through a closed door regardless of whether they were an intruder, because of the value of human life.
"I'm expecting that if he beats the murder charge, he is in very grave jeopardy of being convicted of culpable homicide," he said.
What about appeals?
If Pistorius is convicted, he could potentially appeal to the supreme court and even eventually to South Africa's constitutional court.
If the initial court did not give him leave to appeal, he could petition South Africa's chief justice for permission.
The right to appeal depends on whether, based on the facts of the case, the initial judge or magistrate believes a different court could possibly reach a different verdict.
South Africa's highest court, the constitutional court, used to be only for cases regarding constitutional matters, but a recent act of parliament broadened its remit.