Following shakedown, Rowan was based at Newport, Rhode Island and operated along the Atlantic coast during the fall of 1916, then participated in winter exercises in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. At Norfolk when the United States entered World War I, she patrolled off the mouth of the York River, then was repaired at New York.
On 7 May 1917, Rowan departed Boston for Ireland, arriving with Division 7 at Queenstown on the 27th. From then through the remainder of the war, she conducted antisubmarine patrols and escorted convoys to both British and French ports. On 28 May 1918, she joined two other destroyers in attacking a U-boat, dropped 14 depth charges and had the satisfaction of watching oil cover the surface in the attack area.
Rowan departed Queenstown on 26 December 1918 and reached New York on 8 January 1919. Into the summer, she conducted exercises along the east coast and in the Caribbean. On 29 August, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was placed in reduced commission.
Designated DD 64 the following summer, 1920, Rowan resumed operations with the Atlantic Fleet in March 1921 and continued them until March 1922. She then returned to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 19 June 1922. She remained inactive, laid up at League Island, until struck from the Navy list on 7 January 1936. Her hulk was sold for scrap on 20 April 1939.