The 31-year-old has called time on his Three Lions career, less than 24 hours before the Football Association hearing into alleged racial abuse towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand - charges denied by Terry.
The move is a major blow to manager Roy Hodgson, as well as being somewhat embarrassing as he had continued to stand by Terry throughout the racism storm that erupted over a clash with Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road last October.
"I am today announcing my retirement from international football," said a statement issued by Terry on Sunday evening.
"I would like to thank the England managers who have selected me for my 78 caps.
"I have had great pleasure in sharing that honour with all the players that I've played with.
"I would like to thank them, the fans and my family for their support and encouragement during my international career.
"Representing and captaining my country is what I dreamed of as a boy and it has been a truly great honour. I have always given my all and it breaks my heart to make this decision. I want to wish Roy and the team every success for the future.
"I am making this statement today in advance of the hearing of the FA disciplinary charge because I feel The FA, in pursuing charges against me where I have already been cleared in a court of law, have made my position with the national team untenable.
"I now look forward to playing for Chelsea FC, and challenging for domestic and European honours, and I want to thank the fans and the club for their continued support."