In early 2003, the global infection control community faced a great challenge, sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The rapid spread of SARS, its capacity to infect health care workers, and its many unknown features in the early days of the outbreak meant that health care workers were unsure of the most effective methods of infection control to prevent disease transmission. These conditions made designing appropriate, effective and standard infection control responses difficult. Innovation was necessary. This article provides a brief overview of global challenges in infection control and SARS. The author reports field observations and describes five selected examples of highly innovative, SARS-related infection control practices observed in three affected countries during the height of the 2003 outbreak. These examples relate to risk assessment, patient segregation, strategies to limit access to clinical areas, health care worker protection, and efforts to promote public confidence. Many of these strategies could be considered for use in the post-2003 SARS era, especially in preparation for an influenza or Avian influenza pandemic.