In this phase II response-adaptive trial, we investigated the rational application of immune checkpoint blockade in renal cell carcinoma (RCC; ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03203473).We enrolled patients with metastatic RCC with no prior checkpoint inhibitor exposure. All patients received nivolumab alone with subsequent arm allocation based on response. Patients with a confirmed partial response (PR) or complete response (CR) within 6 months discontinued nivolumab and were observed (arm A). Patients with stable disease or progressive disease (PD) after no more than 6 months of nivolumab received two doses of ipilimumab (arm B). The primary endpoints were the proportion of patients with PR/CR at 1 year after nivolumab discontinuation (arm A) and proportion of nivolumab nonresponders who converted to PR/CR after ipilimumab (arm B).Overall, 83 patients initiated treatment, of whom 96% had clear-cell histology, 51% were treatment naïve, and 67% had intermediate/poor-risk disease. Median follow-up was 19.5 months. Within 6 months, induction nivolumab resulted in a confirmed PR in 12% of patients (n = 10). Fourteen patients were not allocated to a study arm (seven because of toxicity, seven because of PD). Twelve patients (14%) were allocated to arm A and discontinued nivolumab, of whom five (42%; 90% CI, 18% to 68%) remained off nivolumab at ≥ 1 year. Of 57 patients (69%) allocated to arm B, two patients converted to a confirmed PR (4%; 90% CI, 1% to 11%), and no CRs were observed.In this study, nivolumab followed by two doses of ipilimumab resulted in no CRs and a low PR/CR conversion. The number of patients evaluated for nivolumab discontinuation was too small to assess the value of this approach. Currently, our data do not support a response-adaptive strategy for checkpoint blockade in advanced RCC.