Dirac and Weyl semimetals are 3D analogues of graphene in which crystalline symmetry protects the nodes against gap formation. Na3Bi and Cd3As2 were predicted to be Dirac semimetals, and recently confirmed to be so by photoemission experiments. Several novel transport properties in a magnetic field have been proposed for Dirac semimetals. Here, we report a property of Cd3As2 that was unpredicted, namely a remarkable protection mechanism that strongly suppresses backscattering in zero magnetic field. In single crystals, the protection results in ultrahigh mobility, 9 × 10(6) cm(2) V(-1) s(-1) at 5 K. Suppression of backscattering results in a transport lifetime 10(4) times longer than the quantum lifetime. The lifting of this protection by the applied magnetic field leads to a very large magnetoresistance. We discuss how this may relate to changes to the Fermi surface induced by the applied magnetic field.