To achieve highly efficient mesoscopic perovskite solar cells (PSCs), the structure and properties of an electron transport layer (ETL) or material (ETM) have been shown to be of supreme importance. Particularly, the core-shell heterostructured mesoscopic ETM architecture has been recognized as a successful electrode design, because of its large internal surface area, superior light-harvesting efficiency and its ability to achieve fast charge transport. Here we report the successful fabrication of a hysteresis-free, 15.3% efficient PSC using vertically aligned ZnO nanorod/TiO2 shell (ZNR/TS) core-shell heterostructured ETMs for the first time. We have also added a conjugated polyelectrolyte polymer into the growth solution to promote the growth of high aspect ratio (AR) ZNRs and substantially improve the infiltration of the perovskite light absorber into the ETM. The PSCs based on the as-synthesized core-shell ZnO/TiO2 heterostructured ETMs exhibited excellent performance enhancement credited to the superior light harvesting capability, larger surface area, prolonged charge-transport pathways and lower recombination rate. The unique ETM design together with minimal hysteresis introduces core-shell ZnO/TiO2 heterostructures as a promising mesoscopic electrode approach for the fabrication of efficient PSCs. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry.