This paper reports a cross-sectional questionnaire study that investigated perceived stress and psychological responses to the SARS outbreak in healthcare students at the height of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003. Non-healthcare university students served as controls. All the groups reported high levels of perceived stress. Despite being similarly confident in infection control procedures, nursing students were significantly more stressed than medical students, possibly reflecting a perceived higher risk of infection due to more prolonged contact with patients. Non-healthcare students also had high stress levels due to the perceived risks of dying from SARS, reflecting a fear of the unknown. Suitable psychological and occupational support services should be made available in case of future outbreaks.