For the past three decades nanoscience has widely affected many areas in physics, chemistry and engineering, and has led to numerous fundamental discoveries, as well as applications and products. Concurrently, quantum science and technology has developed into a cross-disciplinary research endeavour connecting these same areas and holds burgeoning commercial promise. Although quantum physics dictates the behaviour of nanoscale objects, quantum coherence, which is central to quantum information, communication and sensing, has not played an explicit role in much of nanoscience. This Review describes fundamental principles and practical applications of quantum coherence in nanoscale systems, a research area we call quantum-coherent nanoscience. We structure this Review according to specific degrees of freedom that can be quantum-coherently controlled in a given nanoscale system, such as charge, spin, mechanical motion and photons. We review the current state of the art and focus on outstanding challenges and opportunities unlocked by the merging of nanoscience and coherent quantum operations. Although quantum physics underpins the behaviour of nanoscale objects, its role in nanoscience has been mostly limited to determining the static, equilibrium properties of small systems. This Review describes seminal developments and new directions for the explicit exploitation of quantum coherence in nanoscale systems, a research area termed quantum-coherent nanoscience.