Chikungunya is seldom fatal, but does cause rashes, fever and severe joint pain that can linger for years in some cases.
The first U.S. infections were reported in South Florida last month.
Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, National Institutes of Health researchers say the new vaccine triggered an impressive immune response in all 25 adult volunteers who took part. There were also no significant side effects.
The vaccine is now slated to go into Phase II trials, but could be years from being widely available.
The virus that causes Chikungunya can be carried by two species of mosquito common across a wide area of the United States.
Some doctors warn the disease could spread from a handful of cases in South Florida during July, to along the Gulf of Mexico coast over the next few months.