New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) members have voted to agree to its merger with electronic trading firm Archipelago.
The exchange is currently owned by its 1,366 members
The agreement will see the NYSE turn into a publicly-traded company and end more than 200 years of it being a private partnership venture.
Analysts had long said the NYSE needed to make the move to better compete with rivals such as Deutsche Boerse who have already made the switch.
More than 95% of NYSE members or "seatholders" backed the merger.
The NYSE will now become the world's second-biggest publicly-traded stock exchange by market value, behind Deutsche Boerse.
Its move to join with Archipelago has been engineered by the NYSE's chief executive John Thain.
The NYSE will now get tradable shares that can be used to buy rivals, new technology provided by electronic trader Archipelago, and the ability to trade in new products such as options.
Also, instead of being owned by its 1,366 members, many of whom rent out their seats on the exchange and can be slow when approving changes, the NYSE will be shareholder-owned.
NYSE members will earn $300,000 (£172,000) for each seat and share 70% of shares in the new company.
"This is a truly historic day for the New York Stock Exchange and an event of great importance for our future and that of our customers and Americas capital markets," said Mr Thain.
"This transaction gives the NYSE a strong platform for future growth, value creation, and competitive positioning on a global basis."
The main question will now be the future of the NYSE's dealing room, where traders stand and strike deals.
Many of the other open-outcry trading pits have already changed to electronic systems, and the feeling among analysts is that the NYSE may eventually follow suit.