James Wolfensohn is to leave his job this year after 10 years as president of the World Bank Group.
Mr Wolfensohn has spent the last ten years fighting for the poor
Privately, he had let it be known that he would like to serve another five year term, but his lobbying efforts in Washington have failed.
The Bush administration has decided it wants a new man to head the agency.
Originally nominated by President Clinton, Australian-born Mr Wolfensohn broke the mould of the previously drab bureaucrats who had run the bank.
Renowned among World Bank staff for his charisma, charm and occasional outbursts of temper, James Wolfensohn has attempted to transform the institution which lends some $20bn a year to developing nations.
During his ten years as head of the bank, Wolfensohn has emphasised the need to fight poverty in developing nations.
Mr Zoellick could become the next World Bank president
He has also fought hard with considerable success to reduce the debts owed by some of the world's poorest countries.
As the bank's largest shareholder, it is the US which traditionally chooses who should head the bank.
Among the favourites to succeed Mr Wolfensohn is Robert Zoellick, currently the US trade negotiator.