In 2049, replicants (bioengineered humans) are servants and slaves in society. K, a replicant, works for the LAPD as a “Blade Runner”—an officer who hunts down and “retires” (kills) rogue replicants. While on assignment, K visits a protein farm and retires the rogue replicant Sapper Morton. He finds a box buried under a dead tree. At the morgue K finds out they are the remains of a female replicant who died during an emergency caesarean section. They conclude it is possible that replicants can reproduce through conventional sexual means, which was previously thought impossible. At her office, Lieutenant Joshi (K’s superior) is fearful this new knowledge could lead to a war between humans and replicants. She orders K to find and retire the replicant child to prevent the truth from coming out.
K visits the Wallace Corporation headquarters, where the deceased female is identified from DNA archives as Rachael, an experimental replicant designed by Dr. Tyrell. K learns of Rachael’s romantic ties with former blade runner Rick Deckard. The CEO, Niander Wallace, wants to discover the secret to replicant reproduction to expand interstellar colonization. He sends his replicant enforcer Luv to steal Rachael’s remains from LAPD headquarters and follow K to Rachael’s child.
K returns to Morton’s farm, he sees the date 6-10-21 carved into the dead tree trunk and recognizes it from a childhood memory of a wooden toy horse. Because replicants’ memories are artificial implants, K’s holographic girlfriend Joi believes this is evidence that K was born, not created like replicants are. K burns down the farm and leaves. He searches the LAPD records and discovers twins born on that date with identical DNA aside from the sex chromosome, but only the boy is listed as alive. K tracks the child to an orphanage in ruined San Diego, but discovers that the records from that year are missing. K recognizes the orphanage from his memories, and finds the toy horse where he remembers having hidden it.