A little over a year before his term was set to expire, the World Bank president will leave his position in June.
Without giving a reason for his decision, David Malpass made his announcement on social media.
He has been criticized for being a climate change denier and was chosen by the former US President Donald Trump.
He was reprimanded by the White House last year after he claimed to be unaware of whether fossil fuels were causing climate change.
Later, he expressed regret for the remarks.
After working in the US Department of Treasury during the Trump administration, Mr. Malpass began his five-year term in April 2019.
In a statement, Mr. Malpass said he was proud of his work at the bank, which manages annual lending to developing nations in the billions of dollars.
Under his direction, financing "including climate financing" had reached all-time highs.
In a statement posted on LinkedIn, he predicted that by the end of the current fiscal year, "we will be well-positioned to feature sustainability more clearly in the mission of the World Bank Group, align the mission with resources, and set in motion an effective evolution to increase the institution's impact on people in the developing world.".
Mr. Malpass had long been viewed as a contentious choice to lead the World Bank because of his skepticism of multilateral organizations.
Former US Vice President Al Gore called for his replacement at a September event, saying it was "ridiculous to have a climate denier as the head of the World Bank" and that the bank wasn't doing enough to raise money for climate issues. " .
When prompted later, Mr. Malpass defended himself but refrained from claiming that fossil fuels were to blame for climate change.
He admitted he had not heard or answered the question well in a subsequent interview with CNN, adding that man-made emissions were "clearly" a factor.
In a statement that made reference to the controversy, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has been pushing for reform at the World Bank and other development banks, thanked Mr. Malpass for his service.
"While we all must continue to raise our collective ambitions in the fight against climate change, the World Bank has made significant recent progress in this area during President Malpass' tenure," she said.
She announced that the US would soon present a new candidate to head the bank.
The largest shareholder and primary source of funding for the World Bank is the US.
Since the organization's founding in the 1940s, when it was established to aid in the reconstruction of post-World War II Europe, an American has served as its head.