Zika virus (ZIKV) is associated with congenital malformations in infants born to infected mothers, and with Guillain-Barré syndrome in infected adults. Development of ZIKV vaccines has focused predominantly on the induction of neutralizing antibodies, although a suboptimal antibody response may theoretically enhance disease severity through antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). Here, we report induction of a protective anti-ZIKV CD8 T cell response in the HLA-B*0702 transgenic mice using an alphavirus-based replicon RNA vaccine expressing ZIKV nonstructural protein NS3, a potent T cell antigen. The NS3 vaccine did not induce a neutralizing antibody response but elicited polyfunctional CD8 T cells that were necessary and sufficient for preventing death in lethally infected adult mice and fetal growth restriction in infected pregnant mice. These data identify CD8 T cells as the major mediators of ZIKV NS3 vaccine-induced protection and suggest a new strategy to develop safe and effective anti-flavivirus vaccines.Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).