Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a global health concern. In Hong Kong, two major outbreaks, one hospital based and the other in the Amoy Gardens apartments, were identified. The frequency of diarrhoea, admission to intensive care, and mortality differed significantly between the two outbreaks. We did genomic sequencing for viral isolates from five Amoy Gardens patients. The virus sequence was identical in four of these five patients. The sequence data from one hospital case and the four identical community cases had only three nucleotide differences. Alterations in the SARS coronavirus genome are unlikely to have caused the distinctive clinical features of the Amoy Gardens patients, and these results highlight the importance of non-viral genomic factors in this outbreak.