Three of China's most senior leaders, including Vice-President Zeng Qinghong, are to step down.
Zeng Qinghong was appointed vice-president in March 2003
Zeng and two other politicians, Luo Gan and Wu Guanzheng, were dropped from the Communist Party's central committee at its five-yearly congress.
The announcement is seen as the first stage in a widely expected reshuffle in favour of a new generation of leaders.
The three men cannot now be elected to the standing committee on Monday when their replacements will be named.
The nine-member standing committee is the country's supreme decision-making body. A fourth member, Huang Ju, died in the summer and will also be replaced.
The congress also decided to include President Hu Jintao's "scientific concept of development" in the party constitution.
President Hu is widely expected to be given a second term as general secretary of the party when the central committee meets on Monday.
Mr Zeng, whose father was a veteran revolutionary, was ranked fifth in the party hierarchy and has previously been linked with former President Jiang Zemin.
The BBC's Michael Bristow, who was at the congress in the Great Hall of the People, says his retirement could be taken as a sign that President Hu is solidifying his grip on the country's political system.
Wu Guanzheng, in charge of party discipline, and Luo Gan, who oversaw national security as head of the party's politics and law committee, also stepped aside.
Our correspondent says there has been considerable speculation about who will be part of the new generation of leaders.
He adds that the congress was closely stage-managed from start to finish, with delegates singing the left-wing anthem the Internationale at the closing ceremony.
But as delegates left the Great Hall of the People on the edge of Tiananmen Square, a shouting protester was bundled away by police.
Mr Zeng is a Beijing-trained engineer who also took part in tough trade negotiations with the United States.
China's Communist Party still tolerates little dissent
He belonged to the elite group of China's "princelings", the children of veteran Communist Party revolutionaries.
Mr Zeng worked as an aide to Mr Jiang when he was Shanghai Party secretary in the mid-1980s.
When Mr Jiang was transferred to Beijing after the 1989 pro-democracy student movement, the one adviser he chose to take with him was Mr Zeng.
Mr Zeng was elected a member of the Communist Party's standing committee in November 2002, five months before he became vice-president under Mr Hu.