The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an exercise training program on cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal performance and health-related quality of life of patients who were recovering from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). A 6-week supervised exercise training program was carried out in the physiotherapy department of a university teaching hospital. One hundred and thirty-three patients referred from a SARS Review Clinic solely for physiotherapy were included. Cardiorespiratory fitness (6-minute walk test, Chester Step Test for predicting VO(2max)), musculoskeletal performance (isometric deltoid and gluteal muscles strength, handgrip strength, 1-minute curl-up and push-up tests) and health-related quality of life (SF-36) were measured and evaluated. Patients were assigned randomly to either a control group (standardised educational session about exercise rehabilitation) or an exercise group. After 6 weeks, significantly greater improvement was shown in the exercise group in the 6-minute walk test (77.4 m vs 20.7 m, p < 0.001), VO(2max) (3.6 ml/kg/min vs 1 ml/kg/min, p = 0.04), and musculoskeletal performance (handgrip strength, curl-up and push-up tests, p < 0.05). Effects on health-related quality of life were not statistically significant. It was concluded that the exercise training program was effective in improving both the cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness in patients recovering from SARS. However, health-related quality of life was not affected by physical training.