Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a disease characterized by diffuse alveolar damage. We isolated human alveolar type II cells and maintained them in a highly differentiated state. Type II cell cultures supported SARS-CoV replication as evidenced by RT-PCR detection of viral subgenomic RNA and an increase in virus titer. Virus titers were maximal by 24 h and peaked at approximately 10(5) pfu/mL. Two cell types within the cultures were infected. One cell type was type II cells, which were positive for SP-A, SP-C, cytokeratin, a type II cell-specific monoclonal antibody, and Ep-CAM. The other cell type was composed of spindle-shaped cells that were positive for vimentin and collagen III and likely fibroblasts. Viral replication was not detected in type I-like cells or macrophages. Hence, differentiated adult human alveolar type II cells were infectible but alveolar type I-like cells and alveolar macrophages did not support productive infection.