Don Thompson, a 22-year McDonald's veteran will take over in June.
Thompson is currently responsible for global strategy and operations for the more than 33,000 McDonald's restaurants in 119 countries.
Thompson will replace current CEO Jim Skinner, who is retiring.
Skinner helped launch the plan that turned McDonald's around in 2003.
McDonald's faces challenges going forward. One of them is the economic turmoil in Europe, which is McDonald's largest market by revenue. The company has been troubled by rising costs for ingredients and labor as well.