The S2 domain of the coronavirus spike (S) protein is known to be responsible for mediating membrane fusion. In addition to a well-recognized cleavage site at the S1-S2 boundary, a second proteolytic cleavage site has been identified in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) S2 domain (R797). C-terminal to this S2 cleavage site is a conserved region flanked by cysteine residues C822 and C833. Here, we investigated the importance of this well conserved region for SARS-CoV S-mediated fusion activation. We show that the residues between C822-C833 are well conserved across all coronaviruses. Mutagenic analysis of SARS-CoV S, combined with cell-cell fusion and pseudotyped virion infectivity assays, showed a critical role for the core-conserved residues C822, D830, L831, and C833. Based on available predictive models, we propose that the conserved domain flanked by cysteines 822 and 833 forms a loop structure that interacts with components of the SARS-CoV S trimer to control the activation of membrane fusion.