A new and highly pathogenic coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2, SARS-CoV-2) caused an outbreak in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China, starting from December 2019 that quickly spread nationwide and to other countries around the world1-3. Here, to better understand the initial step of infection at an atomic level, we determined the crystal structure of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 bound to the cell receptor ACE2. The overall ACE2-binding mode of the SARS-CoV-2 RBD is nearly identical to that of the SARS-CoV RBD, which also uses ACE2 as the cell receptor4. Structural analysis identified residues in the SARS-CoV-2 RBD that are essential for ACE2 binding, the majority of which either are highly conserved or share similar side chain properties with those in the SARS-CoV RBD. Such similarity in structure and sequence strongly indicate convergent evolution between the SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV RBDs for improved binding to ACE2, although SARS-CoV-2 does not cluster within SARS and SARS-related coronaviruses1-3,5. The epitopes of two SARS-CoV antibodies that target the RBD are also analysed for binding to the SARS-CoV-2 RBD, providing insights into the future identification of cross-reactive antibodies.