Ebola virus infection is a highly lethal disease for which there are no effective therapeutic or preventive treatments. Several vaccines have provided immune protection in laboratory animals, but because outbreaks occur unpredictably and sporadically, vaccine efficacy cannot be proven in human trials, which is required for traditional regulatory approval. The Food and Drug Administration has introduced the 'animal rule', to allow laboratory animal data to be used to show efficacy when human trials are not logistically feasible. In this Review, we describe immune correlates of vaccine protection against Ebola virus in animals. This research provides a basis for bridging the gap from basic research to human vaccine responses in support of the licensing of vaccines through the animal rule.