Cellular entry of enveloped viruses is often dependent on attachment proteins expressed on the host cell surface. Viral envelope proteins bind these receptors, and, in an incompletely understood process, facilitate fusion of the cellular and viral membranes so as to introduce the viral core into the cytoplasm. Only a small fraction of viral receptors have been identified so far. Recently, a novel coronavirus was identified as the etiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The fusion protein gene of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was cloned and characterized, and shortly thereafter, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) was shown to be its functional receptor. Identification of ACE2 as a receptor for SARS-CoV will likely contribute to the development of antivirals and vaccines. It may also contribute to the development of additional animal models for studying SARS pathogenesis, and could help identify the animal reservoir of SARS-CoV.