Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a highly lethal emerging disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV. New lethal animal models for SARS were needed to facilitate antiviral research. We adapted and characterized a new strain of SARS-CoV (strain v2163) that was highly lethal in 5- to 6-week-old BALB/c mice. It had nine mutations affecting 10 amino acid residues. Strain v2163 increased IL-1alpha, IL-6, MIP-1alpha, MCP-1, and RANTES in mice, and high IL-6 expression correlated with mortality. The infection largely mimicked human disease, but lung pathology lacked hyaline membrane formation. In vitro efficacy against v2163 was shown with known inhibitors of SARS-CoV replication. In v2163-infected mice, Ampligen was fully protective, stinging nettle lectin (UDA) was partially protective, ribavirin was disputable and possibly exacerbated disease, and EP128533 was inactive. Ribavirin, UDA, and Ampligen decreased IL-6 expression. Strain v2163 provided a valuable model for anti-SARS research.