He confirmed he will be hanging up his boots in a Twitter message posted on Friday.
Zabaleta said: "After 18 years as a professional footballer I took the decision to retire from playing football.
"These have been wonderful years that gave me the opportunity to enjoy unique and unforgettable moments.
"Forever I will thank all the people that shared the journey with me; clubs, teammates, coaches and in particular my family and all my friends.
"With a lot of emotions I leave behind one of the best stages of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."