A coronavirus which was isolated from a cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) that succumbed to feline infectious peritonitis was characterized in vitro. The virus was determined to be highly cell-associated with Crandell feline kidney (CrFK) cells and was routinely maintained as a persistent infection (CrFK 83-4497). The cheetah coronavirus was compared with other members of the feline coronavirus group including the feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) 79-1683 and the feline infectious peritonitis viruses (FIPV), 79-1146, and UCD-1. The cheetah coronavirus was demonstrated to have a restricted host-cell range with limited cytopathic effect. Indirect immunofluorescence with antisera to FIPV UCD-1 revealed the concentration of viral antigens in the perinuclear region of cells infected with the cheetah coronavirus. Ultrastructural studies of the cheetah coronavirus indicated a limited number of immature viral particles within cytoplasmic vesicles and at the cell surface. This was in contrast to electron microscopy results of FECV 79-1683 and FIPV 79-1146, which had numerous mature virus particles within the cytoplasmic vesicles, as well as at the cell surface. The cheetah coronavirus was tentatively placed in the feline coronavirus family based upon its antigenic reactivity by immunofluorescence; however, the possibility that it represents a unique coronavirus of cheetahs should not be dismissed without further analyses at the host and genomic levels.