Although the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak was controlled, repeated transmission of SARS coronavirus (CoV) over several years makes the development of a SARS vaccine desirable. We performed a comparative evaluation of two SARS vaccines for their ability to protect against live SARS-CoV intranasal challenge in ferrets. Both the whole killed SARS-CoV vaccine (with and without alum) and adenovirus-based vectors encoding the nucleocapsid (N) and spike (S) protein induced neutralizing antibody responses and reduced viral replication and shedding in the upper respiratory tract and progression of virus to the lower respiratory tract. The vaccines also diminished haemorrhage in the thymus and reduced the severity and extent of pneumonia and damage to lung epithelium. However, despite high neutralizing antibody titres, protection was incomplete for all vaccine preparations and administration routes. Our data suggest that a combination of vaccine strategies may be required for effective protection from this pathogen. The ferret may be a good model for SARS-CoV infection because it is the only model that replicates the fever seen in human patients, as well as replicating other SARS disease features including infection by the respiratory route, clinical signs, viral replication in upper and lower respiratory tract and lung damage.