The recent severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Asia and Northern America led to broad use of various types of disinfectant in order to control the public spread of the highly contagious virus. However, only limited data were available to demonstrate their efficacy against SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). We therefore investigated eight disinfectants for their activity against SARS-CoV according to prEN 14476. Four hand rubs were tested at 30s (Sterillium, based on 45% iso-propanol, 30% n-propanol and 0.2% mecetronium etilsulphate; Sterillium Rub, based on 80% ethanol; Sterillium Gel, based on 85% ethanol; Sterillium Virugard, based on 95% ethanol). Three surface disinfectants were investigated at 0.5% for 30 min and 60 min (Mikrobac forte, based on benzalkonium chloride and laurylamine; Kohrsolin FF, based on benzalkonium chloride, glutaraldehyde and didecyldimonium chloride; Dismozon pur, based on magnesium monoperphthalate), and one instrument disinfectant was investigated at 4% for 15 min, 3% for 30 min and 2% for 60 min [Korsolex basic, based on glutaraldehyde and (ethylenedioxy)dimethanol]. Three types of organic load were used: 0.3% albumin, 10% fetal calf serum, and 0.3% albumin with 0.3% sheep erythrocytes. Virus titres were determined by a quantitative test (endpoint titration) in 96-well microtitre plates. With all tested preparations, SARS-CoV was inactivated to below the limit of detection (reduction factor mostly > or =4), regardless of the type of organic load. In summary, SARS-CoV can be inactivated quite easily with many commonly used disinfectants.