During a taping of Thursday's show, Letterman said he has informed his CBS bosses that he will step down in 2015, when his current contract expires.
He told his audience he expects his departure will be "at least a year or so" from now.
Letterman turns 67 next week. He has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, nearing 32 years since he created "Late Night" at NBC in 1982.
He jumped to CBS to start "Late Show" in 1993.
Jay Leno, his rival to host NBC's "Tonight Show," retired earlier this year, making way for Jimmy Fallon.
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