Control of the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak was based on rapid diagnosis coupled with effective patient isolation. We used uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of the basic reproductive number R0 to assess the role that model parameters play in outbreak control. The transmission rate and isolation effectiveness have the largest fractional effect on R0. We estimated the distribution of the reproductive number R0 under perfect isolation conditions. The distribution lies in the interquartile range 0.19-1.08, with a median of 0.49. Even though the median of R0 is < 1, we found that 25% of our R0 distribution lies at R0 > 1, even with perfect isolation. This implies the need to simultaneously apply more than one method of control.