BACKGROUND: Short-term targeted treatment can potentially prevent fall asthma exacerbations while limiting therapy exposure. OBJECTIVE: We sought to compare (1) omalizumab with placebo and (2) omalizumab with an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) boost with regard to fall exacerbation rates when initiated 4 to 6 weeks before return to school. METHODS: A 3-arm, randomized, double-blind, double placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial was conducted among inner-city asthmatic children aged 6 to 17 years with 1 or more recent exacerbations (clincaltrials.gov #NCT01430403). Guidelines-based therapy was continued over a 4- to 9-month run-in phase and a 4-month intervention phase. In a subset the effects of omalizumab on IFN-alpha responses to rhinovirus in PBMCs were examined. RESULTS: Before the falls of 2012 and 2013, 727 children were enrolled, 513 were randomized, and 478 were analyzed. The fall exacerbation rate was significantly lower in the omalizumab versus placebo arms (11.3% vs 21.0%; odds ratio [OR], 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25-0.92), but there was no significant difference between omalizumab and ICS boost (8.4% vs 11.1%; OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.33-1.64). In a prespecified subgroup analysis, among participants with an exacerbation during the run-in phase, omalizumab was significantly more efficacious than both placebo (6.4% vs 36.3%; OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.02-0.64) and ICS boost (2.0% vs 27.8%; OR, 0.05; 95% CI, 0.002-0.98). Omalizumab improved IFN-alpha responses to rhinovirus, and within the omalizumab group, greater IFN-alpha increases were associated with fewer exacerbations (OR, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.01-0.88). Adverse events were rare and similar among arms. CONCLUSIONS: Adding omalizumab before return to school to ongoing guidelines-based care among inner-city youth reduces fall asthma exacerbations, particularly among those with a recent exacerbation.