Four friends (all impecunious artists) live in a Paris garret: Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard and Colline. On Christmas Eve, when the others have gone to the Café Momus, Rodolfo receives an unexpected visit from a neighbour, Mimì, and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Marcello reunites with Musetta, his on-again-off-again lover. Rodolfo becomes jealous and possessive of Mimì, who is ill and unhappy. They reluctantly agree to separate. Months later, Mimì returns to the garret, in a desperate state. The friends look after her as best they can, but it is too late.