Angela Merkel has said she will step down as German Chancellor when her current term ends in 2021.
She told a news conference in Berlin: “I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends.”
It emerged earlier that she told her party she was giving up the leadership.
She told leaders of her Christian Democrats (CDU) that she will not seek re-election as party chairwoman come December.
Mrs Merkel has been CDU chairman since 2000 and has held the post of Chancellor for 13 years.
As the leader of the largest economy in the European Union, Mrs Merkel is widely respected around the world.
However she has come under mounting pressure in recent months, culminating in a disastrous result for Germany’s ruling parties in state elections this weekend.
Mrs Merkel’s conservative CDU party currently rules along with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SDP).
In the vote for the central Hesse region’s state legislature, the CDU managed a lucklustre win, with the SDP running neck-and-neck with the Greens for second place.
As a result, questions are being asked about the viability of the ruling coalition in Berlin.
The embattled leader of the SDP, Andrea Nahles, has given Merkel an ultimatum to produce the kind of policy results within a year that would start bringing back voters, threatening otherwise to end the alliance.
She said that “the state of the government is unacceptable”, demanding a clear and binding timetable for the implementation of projects.
German politics has been marked in recent years by the rise of the far-right AfD party.
The party won seats in the Bundestag for the first time in 2017, marking a backlash to Mrs Merkel’s initially popular open borders migration policy.
In 2015, Germany accepted more than one million refugees under circumstances the Chancellor described as ‘extraordinary’.
She has since defended her decision, saying she would make the decision ‘the same way again’.