Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) can protect against HIV infection but have not been induced by human vaccination. A key barrier to bnAb induction is vaccine priming of rare bnAb-precursor B cells. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 1 clinical trial, the HIV vaccine-priming candidate eOD-GT8 60mer adjuvanted with AS01B had a favorable safety profile and induced VRC01-class bnAb precursors in 97% of vaccine recipients with median frequencies reaching 0.1% among immunoglobulin G B cells in blood. bnAb precursors shared properties with bnAbs and gained somatic hypermutation and affinity with the boost. The results establish clinical proof of concept for germline-targeting vaccine priming, support development of boosting regimens to induce bnAbs, and encourage application of the germline-targeting strategy to other targets in HIV and other pathogens.