A novel human coronavirus causing severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in epidemic form in early 2003 in China and spread worldwide in a few months. Every newly emerging human pathogen is of concern for the safety of the blood supply during and after an epidemic crisis. For this purpose, we have evaluated the inactivation of SARS-coronavirus (CoV) in platelet concentrates using an approved pathogen inactivation device, the INTERCEPT Blood System. Apheresis platelet concentrates (APCs) were inoculated with approximately 10(6) pfu mL(-1) of either Urbani or HSR1 isolates of SARS-CoV. The inoculated units were mixed with 150 microm amotosalen and illuminated with 3 J cm(-2) UV-A light. The viral titres were determined by plaque formation in Vero E6 cells. Mixing SARS-CoV with APC in the absence of any treatment decreased viral infectivity by approximately 0.5-1 log10. Following photochemical treatment, SARS-CoV was consistently inactivated to the limit of detection in seven independent APC units. No infectious virus was detected after treatment when up to one-third of the APC unit was assayed, demonstrating a mean log10-reduction of >6.2. Potent inactivation of SARS-CoV therefore extends the capability of the INTERCEPT Blood System in inactivating a broad spectrum of human pathogens including recently emerging respiratory viruses.