mRNA technologies have recently proven clinical efficacy against coronavirus disease 2019 and are among the most promising technologies to address the current pandemic. Here, we show preclinical data for our clinical candidate CVnCoV, a lipid nanoparticle-encapsulated mRNA vaccine that encodes full-length, pre-fusion stabilised severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. In contrast to previously published approaches, CVnCoV is exclusively composed of naturally occurring nucleotides. Immunisation with CVnCoV induced strong humoral responses with high titres of virus-neutralising antibodies and robust T-cell responses. CVnCoV vaccination protected hamsters from challenge with wild-type SARS-CoV-2, demonstrated by the absence of viral replication in the lungs. Hamsters vaccinated with a suboptimal dose of CVnCoV leading to breakthrough viral replication exhibited no evidence of vaccine-enhanced disease. Overall, data presented here provide evidence that CVnCoV represents a potent and safe vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.