Two young artists, Sue and Johnsy, rent an apartment on the top floor of a house in New York’s Greenwich Village, where artists have long settled. In November, Johnsy becomes pneumonia. The verdict of the doctor is disappointing: “She has one chance out of ten, and if she wants to live herself.” But Johnsy just lost interest in life. She lies in bed, looks out of the window and counts how many leaves are left on the old ivy, which wrapped its walls against the wall. Johnsy is convinced that when the last leaf falls, she will die.
Sue tells of the dark thoughts of a friend to the old artist Berman, who lives below. He has been going to create a masterpiece for a long time, but while he does not stick to something. Hearing about Johnsy, old Berman was terribly upset and did not want to pose Sue, who wrote him a recluse gold digger.
The next morning it turns out that there was only one leaf on the ivy. Johnsy watches him resist the gusts of the wind. It was getting dark, it started to rain, the wind blew even harder, and Johnsy did not doubt that next morning she would not see this leaf any more. But she is mistaken: to her great surprise, the brave sheet continues to fight with the storm. This produces a strong impression on Johnsy. She becomes ashamed of her cowardice, and she finds a desire to live. The doctor who visited her notes improvement. In his opinion, the chances of surviving and dying are already equal. He adds that the neighbor from the bottom also caught pneumonia, but the poor man has no chance of recovering. The next day, the doctor says that now Johnsy’s life is out of danger. In the evening, Sue tells her friend sad news: in the hospital, old man Berman died. He caught a cold that night, when the ivy lost the last leaf and the artist painted a new one and, in the pouring rain and icy wind, attached it to a branch. Berman still created his masterpiece.