BACKGROUND COVID-19 is associated with immune dysregulation and hyperinflammation. Tocilizumab is an anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody. METHODS Patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 pneumonia receiving standard care were randomized (2:1) to double-blinded intravenous tocilizumab 8 mg/kg or placebo. The primary outcome measure was clinical status on a 7-category ordinal scale at day 28 (1, discharged/ready for discharge; 7, death). RESULTS Overall, 452 patients were randomized; the modified-intention-to-treat population included 294 tocilizumab-treated and 144 placebo-treated patients. Clinical status at day 28 was not statistically significantly improved for tocilizumab versus placebo (P=0.36). Median (95% CI) ordinal scale values at day 28: 1.0 (1.0 to 1.0) for tocilizumab and 2.0 (1.0 to 4.0) for placebo (odds ratio, 1.19 [0.81 to 1.76]). There was no difference in mortality at day 28 between tocilizumab (19.7%) and placebo (19.4%) (difference, 0.3% [95% CI, -7.6 to 8.2]; nominal P=0.94). Median time to hospital discharge was 8 days shorter with tocilizumab than placebo (20.0 and 28.0, respectively; nominal P=0.037; hazard ratio 1.35 [95% CI 1.02 to 1.79]). Median duration of ICU stay was 5.8 days shorter with tocilizumab than placebo (9.8 and 15.5, respectively; nominal P=0.045). In the safety population, serious adverse events occurred in 34.9% of 295 patients in the tocilizumab arm and 38.5% of 143 in the placebo arm. CONCLUSIONS In this randomized placebo-controlled trial in hospitalized COVID-19 pneumonia patients, tocilizumab did not improve clinical status or mortality. Potential benefits in time to hospital discharge and duration of ICU stay are being investigated in ongoing clinical trials.