World Bank president Robert Zoellick is to step down from his role at the institution when his five-year term comes to an end on 30 June.
Mr Zoellick, 58, was appointed to his role in 2007 by President George Bush.
The post has always been held by a US national under a loose deal that also sees a European head the International Monetary Fund.
The BBC says this is a situation that emerging economies are increasingly unhappy with.
The BRIC nations - Brazil, Russia, India and China - along with South Africa led an outcry when Christine Lagarde of France was appointed managing director of the IMF in 2011.