More than two billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread, detailed maps published in the journal eLife show.
The Zika virus, which is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, triggered a global health emergency this year.
Last week the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the virus causes severe birth defects.
The latest research showed mapping Zika was more complex than simply defining where the mosquito can survive.
One of the researchers, Dr Oliver Brady from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: “These are the first maps to come out that really use the data we have for Zika – earlier maps were based on Zika being like dengue or chikungunya.
“We are the first to add the very precise geographic and environmental conditions data we have on Zika.”
By learning where Zika could thrive the researchers could then predict where else may be affected. The researchers confirmed that large areas of South America, the focus of the current outbreak, are susceptible.
In total, 2.2 billion people live in areas defined as being “at risk”.
The infection is suspected of leading to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.