Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spread worldwide after an outbreak in Guangdong Province, China, in mid-November 2002. Health care workers were at highest risk of infection. The purpose of this study, which was based on Ajzen's theory of planned behavior (TPB), was to determine the extent to which personal attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control influence nurses' intention and volunteering to care for SARS patients. After the SARS outbreak, a total of 750 staff nurses (response rate 90%) at one hospital completed a questionnaire assessing their intention to provide care to SARS patients. Overall, 42.7% of nurses had a positive intention to provide care to SARS patients, and 25.4% of nurses would volunteer to care for SARS patients. Four factors explaining 35% of the variance in nurses' intention to care for SARS patients were self-efficacy (beta = 0.39, p < 0.001), attitude (beta = 0.25, p < 0.001), years of working in the study hospital (beta = -0.15, p < 0.001), and receiving resources from the hospital (beta = 0.13, p < 0.001). Two factors explaining 15% of the variance in nurses' volunteering to care for SARS patients were intention (beta = 0.31, p < 0.001) and attitude (beta = 0.15, p < 0.001). The final model shows that the variables of the TPB contributed significantly to the explanation of a portion of variance in nurses' intention and volunteering to care for SARS patients. The results are helpful for human resources managers facing a new contagious disease.