The Primordial Inflation Explorer (PIXIE) is an Explorer-class mission to map the absolute intensity and linear polarization of the cosmic microwave background and diffuse astrophysical foregrounds over the full sky from frequencies 30 GHz to 6 THz (1 cm to 50 μm wavelength). PIXIE uses a polarizing Michelson interferometer with 2.7 K optics to measure the difference spectrum between two orthogonal linear polarizations from two co-aligned beams. Either input can view either the sky or a temperature-controlled absolute reference blackbody calibrator. The multimoded optics and high etendu provide sensitivity comparable to kilo-pixel focal plane arrays, but with greatly expanded frequency coverage while using only 4 detectors total. PIXIE builds on the highly successful COBE/FIRAS design by adding large-area polarization-sensitive detectors whose fully symmetric optics are maintained in thermal equilibrium with the CMB. The highly symmetric nulled design provides redundant rejection of major sources of systematic uncertainty. The principal science goal is the detection and characterization of linear polarization from an inflationary epoch in the early universe, with tensor-to-scalar ratio r ≪ 10-3. PIXIE will also return a rich data set constraining physical processes ranging from Big Bang cosmology, reionization, and large-scale structure to the local interstellar medium.