Satralizumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody targeting the interleukin-6 receptor, reduced the risk of relapse in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) when added to immunosuppressant therapy. This study assessed the safety and efficacy of satralizumab monotherapy in patients with the disorder.In this phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial, we enrolled adults aged 18-74 years with aquaporin-4 antibody seropositive or seronegative NMOSD at 44 investigational sites in 13 countries. Eligible participants had experienced at least one documented NMOSD attack or relapse in the past 12 months and had a score of 6·5 or less on the Expanded Disability Status Scale. Exclusion criteria included clinical relapse 30 days or fewer before baseline. Participants were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive satralizumab 120 mg or visually matched placebo subcutaneously at weeks 0, 2, 4, and every 4 weeks thereafter. Taking immunosuppressants concomitantly was prohibited. The primary endpoint was time to the first protocol-defined relapse, based on the intention-to-treat population and analysed with stratification for two randomisation factors (previous therapy for prevention of attacks and nature of the most recent attack). Safety was assessed in all participants who received at least one dose of satralizumab or placebo. The double-blind phase was due to last until 44 protocol-defined relapses occurred or 1·5 years after random assignment of the last patient enrolled, whichever occurred first; participants could enter an open-label phase after the occurrence of a protocol-defined relapse or at the end of the double-blind phase. The study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02073279.95 (57%) of 168 screened participants were randomly assigned to treatment (63 to satralizumab; 32 to placebo) between Aug 5, 2014, and April 2, 2017. Protocol-defined relapses occurred in 19 (30%) patients receiving satralizumab and 16 (50%) receiving placebo (hazard ratio 0·45, 95% CI 0·23-0·89; p=0·018). 473·9 adverse events per 100 patient-years occurred in the satralizumab group, as did 495·2 per 100 patient-years in the placebo group; the incidence of serious adverse events and adverse events leading to withdrawal was similar between groups.Satralizumab monotherapy reduced the rate of NMOSD relapse compared with placebo in the overall trial population, with a favourable safety profile. The patient population included a ratio of aquaporin-4 antibody seropositive and seronegative patients that was reflective of clinical practice. Satralizumab has the potential to become a valuable treatment option for patients with NMOSD.Chugai Pharmaceutical (Roche).