The Church of England's ruling body, the General Synod, voted to allow women to be ordained as bishops.
The Church of England already has women serving as priests
The vote by the church parliament was seen as "historic," as it showed a "substantial margin" of support for the future consecration of women bishops, according to first reports.
Members of the General Synod, meeting in York in northern Britain, also voted for the introduction of a "code of practice" that would allow traditionalist male clergy and parishes to "call in a man" if they objected to serving under a woman bishop.
Some 1,300 clergy had threatened to leave the church if safeguards were not agreed to reassure traditionalists.
The vote was taken after an emotional debate and comes nearly 15 years after the ordination of women priests in England and Wales.
The Church of England, the main Protestant denomination in England and Wales, is the hub of the worldwide Anglican Communion of 78 million.