England v South Africa encounters are often compelling matches
South Africa will host England in a three-Test series in 2012.
The announcement follows a new International Rugby Board directive to introduce longer end-of-season tours in the southern hemisphere.
South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said: "Everyone in rugby has been yearning for a return to old-style tours and the IRB has delivered.
"Both the tourists and the host nations in the southern hemisphere were keen to see this change brought about."
South Africa and England first met in 1906 when they ground out a 3-3 stalemate at Crystal Palace in London with England visiting South Africa six times since.
They played two-Test tours in 1984, 1994, 2000 and 2007 while they played one-off games in South Africa in 1972 and 1998.
Apart from the Lions in 1997 and 2009, England's tour will be the first extended visit by a single nation since New Zealand won a three-match series in South Africa in 1996.
The IRB says Ireland (2016) and France (2017) will embark on similar tours to South Africa before England return for a second full series in 2018.