Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a newly emerged infectious disease with a significant morbidity and mortality. The major clinical features include persistent fever, chills/rigor, myalgia, malaise, dry cough, headache, and dyspnoea. Older subjects may present without the typical febrile response. Common laboratory features include lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, raised alanine transaminases, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase. The constellation of compatible clinical and laboratory findings, together with certain characteristic radiological features and lack of clinical response to broad spectrum antibiotics, should arouse suspicion of SARS. Measurement of serum RNA by real time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction technique has a detection rate of 75%-80% in the first week of the illness.