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At a military site in Desert Rock, Nevada, soldiers led by Lt. Col. Glenn Manning participate in an early morning test explosion of a plutonium atomic bomb. When the bomb fails to detonate as expected, Glenn receives orders to keep the men in the trench because a chain reaction has occurred, making an explosion imminent. Minutes later, when a small, unidentified airplane crashes near the bomb site, Glenn dashes from the trench to pull the pilot to safety, but is caught in the blast from the plutonium bomb. Suffering from burns over his entire body, Glenn undergoes hours of treatment from specialist Dr. Paul Lindstrom and military scientist Dr. Eric Coulter. At the base hospital, Glenn's fiancée, Carol Forrest, anxiously awaits news of Glenn's condition, but Paul refrains from telling her that he believes that Glenn will not survive. The next morning, however, Paul and Eric are stunned when a nurse discovers that Glenn's burns have completely healed. While Carol is convinced that Glenn will make a full recovery, Paul and Eric question his miraculous recuperation and begin analyzing the details of Glenn's unusual case. That evening, Carol is distressed when military security forbids her to visit Glenn again and she later discovers that he is no longer at the hospital. Learning that Paul and Eric work for a military rehabilitation and research lab in the desert, Carol drives there and a guard allows her inside. After overhearing Paul and Eric discussing Glenn's case, Carol sneaks into Glenn's room and is horrified to find that he has mutated into a giant. Later, Paul tells Carol that they believe that Glenn's exposure to the plutonium blast has caused his old cells to stop dying and his new cells to multiply at an accelerated rate that results in his growing eight feet a day. Under Carol's questioning, Paul admits that he and Eric are unsure if they can stop Glenn's growth, but reassures her that they are continuing their research. The following day, Glenn awakens after experiencing disquieting dreams about his past with Carol and his participation in the Korean War. Upon realizing his massive size, Glenn is at first frightened, then deeply disturbed. As Glenn continues to grow, Paul orders him moved to a large tent and recommends that Carol spend time with him. Despite Carol's encouragement, however, Glenn is angry and bitter over his situation. When Glenn remains frustrated and depressed, Paul suggests that Carol return home as she is no longer helpful. Carol refuses, forcing Paul to reveal that he and Eric have ascertained that Glenn's heart is growing at only half the rate of his body and soon will be unable to support his enormous size. That night, Carol visits Glenn and they argue over his continuing despair and pessimism. The following morning as Eric excitedly reports to Paul that he may have found a solution to stopping Glenn's growth, the men discover that Glenn has disappeared. The military, headed by Col. Hallock, conducts a ten-mile-wide search for Glenn with no results. When Carol asks Paul if she can help in their search for Glenn, he cautions her that Glenn's condition may be affecting his mind. Later, Eric declares that he has created a special syringe filled with a serum that will affect Glenn's bone marrow and stop his growth. Hallock then briefs the military squads on their expanding search, which will also be conducted by air. Meanwhile, a television station that had earlier reported two drunks stating they had seen a giant man, relays that the giant has been spotted approaching Las Vegas. As the military heads toward Las Vegas, Glenn, now over sixty feet tall and psychologically confused, is drawn to the oversize, garish hotels on the Las Vegas strip. His exploration of several hotel signs panics the local populace and draws a legion of police. When the police become alarmed by Glenn's behavior, they disobey military orders and begin firing at him, thus enraging Glenn, who destroys several hotel signs before leaving the city. After military helicopters track Glenn's movements toward Boulder Dam, Paul, Carol and Eric arrange to intercept them there with Hallock's troops. Moments after the report, Paul's helicopter lands near Glenn at the dam. Eric and Paul disembark and immediately take the enormous syringe and plunge it into Glenn's ankle. Initially startled, Glenn is then outraged and, removing the needle, stabs Eric with it. Glenn then picks up Carol and starts across the dam. Using a bullhorn to amplify his message, Paul pleads with Glenn to spare Carol and although he is utterly disoriented, Glenn complies. When Glenn reaches the middle of the dam, Hallock orders his men to fire on him and Glenn tumbles into the dam to his death.