A novel coronavirus has been associated with a worldwide outbreak of atypical pneumonia referred to as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). SARS-CoV nucleocapsid (N) protein has been cloned sequenced and expressed in Escherichia coli strain. Purified N protein was used to measure the SARS-CoV specific IgG antibodies from 16 SARS-CoV infected patients' sera and from 131 control subjects using ELISA assay. Specific antibody responses to the purified recombinant N protein after 10, 20, and 30 days of disease onset were observed in 13 of 16 (81.3%), 16 of 16 (100%) and 16 of 16 (100%) SARS patients sera, respectively. Comparison of detection results with a commercially available diagnostic kit coated with a mixture of SARS-CoV viral proteins showed 9 of 16 (56.3%), 13 of 16 (81.3%), and 15 of 16 (93.7%) positive responses, respectively. None of 131 control sera gave positive reaction in either assay. This data suggests that the N protein of SARS-CoV is immunodominant and this ELISA based test assay for detecting the SARS-CoV N antigen may hold a significant value for SARS diagnosis.