Dr. Malcolm Sayer learns of a new medication called L-Dopa that he believes will help revive his patients who suffer from a Parkinson's- like condition caused by encephalitis. Dr. Sayer tests his hypothesis on Leonard Lowe, a patient who has been in a catatonic state for thirty years. The drug proves to be a success with Leonard and so the drug is administered to all the other catatonic patients at the hospital. While the new medication allows Leonard and the other patients a second chance at experiencing life, it also brings some unexpected challenges. Leonard must now cope with his romantic feelings for a visitor at the hospital, the restrictions on his freedom as a patient, as well as a gradual decline in the effectiveness of the treatment.