Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne alphavirus indigenous to tropical Africa and Asia. Acute illness is characterized by fever, arthralgias, conjunctivitis, rash, and sometimes arthritis. Relatively little is known about the antigenic targets for immunity, and no licensed vaccines or therapeutics are currently available for the pathogen. While the Aedes aegypti mosquito is its primary vector, recent evidence suggests that other carriers can transmit CHIKV thus raising concerns about its spread outside of natural endemic areas to new countries including the U.S. and Europe. Considering the potential for pandemic spread, understanding the development of immunity is paramount to the development of effective counter measures against CHIKV. In this study, we isolated a new CHIKV virus from an acutely infected human patient and developed a defined viral challenge stock in mice that allowed us to study viral pathogenesis and develop a viral neutralization assay. We then constructed a synthetic DNA vaccine delivered by in vivo electroporation (EP) that expresses a component of the CHIKV envelope glycoprotein and used this model to evaluate its efficacy. Vaccination induced robust antigen-specific cellular and humoral immune responses, which individually were capable of providing protection against CHIKV challenge in mice. Furthermore, vaccine studies in rhesus macaques demonstrated induction of nAb responses, which mimicked those induced in convalescent human patient sera. These data suggest a protective role for nAb against CHIKV disease and support further study of envelope-based CHIKV DNA vaccines.