Real options theory has emerged as a promising avenue to study joint venture (JV) evolution as a strategic response to managing uncertainty. We extend the real options approach by integrating it with game theory. Such a combined method enriches the valuation functions of each partnering firm and helps to identify the optimal decisions for exercising options in a JV. In our model, each firm's synergy from the joint operation and its knowledge acquisition capability (KAC) can significantly influence the competitive dynamics between partners, potentially affecting how each firm decides to acquire, divest, or dissolve. We employ a new solution technique in real options theory to capture the stochastic process of three factors, and use computer simulation to test the model under varying conditions. The results are stated in five testable propositions, providing a better understanding of the dynamics of a JV. We find that symmetries between partners in synergy or KAC contribute to stability or dissolution of the JV, whereas asymmetries in synergy or KAC make acquisition of the JV assets by one partner desirable. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.