Although in different groups, the coronaviruses severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and NL63 use the same receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-2, for entry into the host cell. Despite this common receptor, the consequence of entry is very different; severe respiratory distress in the case of SARS-CoV but frequently only a mild respiratory infection for NL63. Using a wholly recombinant system, we have investigated the ability of each virus receptor-binding protein, spike or S protein, to bind to ACE-2 in solution and on the cell surface. In both assays, we find that the NL63 S protein has a weaker interaction with ACE-2 than the SARS-CoV S protein, particularly in solution binding, but the residues required for contact are similar. We also confirm that the ACE-2-binding site of NL63 S lies between residues 190 and 739. A lower-affinity interaction with ACE-2 might partly explain the different pathological consequences of infection by SARS-CoV and NL63.