Huge crowds lined the streets from the airport to the city centre for a brief glimpse of Senna's coffin, which arrived in Sao Paulo at dawn on a flight from Paris.
At the airport, six Brazilian air force cadets carried the coffin off the plane, past a guard of honour and on to a fire engine. Some of the onlookers had painted their faces black for the occasion.
The coffin, draped in a Brazilian flag, was accompanied by a motorcade to the Sao Paulo legislative assembly, where it will lie in state until today's funeral.
A queue of people wanting to pay their last respects was formed early on Tuesday.
Authorities expect about 200,000 will pass the coffin.