Different theoretical perspectives ask different questions about state behavior in international negotiations. For example, are governments moved by domestic political pressures? Are transnational networks influencing state behavior? Or do international regimes affect state decisions? However, these questions are almost always considered in the context of an individual negotiation outcome. Indeed, very little work has been undertaken on how these factors vary over time (the temporal dimension of international negotiations). This article addresses the temporal dimension by considering the role of the US across almost a decade of the international climate change negotiations. Drawing on an empirical data set based on elite interviews, this article suggests three factors that need to be taken into account by existing theoretical frameworks in order to capture the observed fluctuations in the behavior of state actors in a prolonged international negotiation, and explains why they matter.