The recombinant nucleocapsid protein (rNP) of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was expressed in a baculovirus system. The purified SARS-CoV rNP was used as an antigen for detection of SARS-CoV antibodies in IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The ELISA was evaluated in comparison with neutralizing antibody assay and the authentic SARS-CoV antigen-based IgG ELISA. Two-hundred and seventy-six serum samples were collected from health care workers in a hospital in which a nosocomial SARS outbreak took place and used for evaluation. The SARS-CoV rNP-based IgG ELISA has 92% of sensitivity and specificity compared with the neutralizing antibody assay and 94% sensitivity and specificity compared with the authentic SARS-CoV antigen-based IgG ELISA. The results suggest that the newly developed SARS-CoV rNP-based IgG ELISA is a valuable tool for the diagnosis and seroepidemiological study of SARS. The SARS-CoV rNP-based IgG ELISA has an advantage over the conventional IgG ELISA in that the antigen can be prepared by laboratory workers without the risk of infection.