An outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by a novel coronavirus (named SARS-CoV-2) and has a case fatality rate of approximately 2%, started in Wuhan (China) in December 20191,2. Following an unprecedented global spread3, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Although data on COVID-19 in humans are emerging at a steady pace, some aspects of the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 can be studied in detail only in animal models, in which repeated sampling and tissue collection is possible. Here we show that SARS-CoV-2 causes a respiratory disease in rhesus macaques that lasts between 8 and 16 days. Pulmonary infiltrates, which are a hallmark of COVID-19 in humans, were visible in lung radiographs. We detected high viral loads in swabs from the nose and throat of all of the macaques, as well as in bronchoalveolar lavages; in one macaque, we observed prolonged rectal shedding. Together, the rhesus macaque recapitulates the moderate disease that has been observed in the majority of human cases of COVID-19. The establishment of the rhesus macaque as a model of COVID-19 will increase our understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease, and aid in the development and testing of medical countermeasures.