Proteomics was used to identify a protein encoded by ORF 3a in a SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Immuno-blotting revealed that interchain disulfide bonds might be formed between this protein and the spike protein. ELISA indicated that sera from SARS patients have significant positive reactions with synthesized peptides derived from the 3a protein. These results are concordant with that of a spike protein-derived peptide. A tendency exists for co-mutation between the 3a protein and the spike protein of SARS-CoV isolates, suggesting that the function of the 3a protein correlates with the spike protein. Taken together, the 3a protein might be tightly correlated to the spike protein in the SARS-CoV functions. The 3a protein may serve as a new clinical marker or drug target for SARS treatment.