Wilkinson won 91 England caps, kicked the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final and played six Tests for the British and Irish Lions.
And despite a career plagued by injury, Wilkinson is England's all-time leading scorer with 1,179 points, which includes six tries, 162 conversions, 239 penalties and a record 36 drop-goals, while his total of 277 points at World Cups is 50 more than any other player in history.
"I never ever believed that I would be able to give up on this dream which has driven me to live, breathe, love and embrace the game of rugby from the earliest days that I can remember," he told his official website.
"Playing the game, representing the team, giving my all and never letting go has meant everything to me.
"I do, have done and always will believe that I am very capable of performing and thriving at any level of the sport.
"It fills me with great sadness, but I know I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the England rugby team."
Wilkinson, who made his debut for England aged just 18, struggled with serious injury throughout his career - at one stage he played just 15 hours of competitive rugby at Newcastle in an 18-month period in the aftermath of the 2003 World Cup win.
England caretaker boss Stuart Lancaster had hoped to include Wilkinson in his plans for the 2012 RBS 6Nations - but was informed of the Toulon player's career wishes when ringing to discuss international strategies.
"Jonny has had a fantastic international career which has spanned four World Cups and 91 caps, and ranks as one of England's greatest ever players," he commented.
"He will, of course, be remembered for that drop-goal. But he is more than that, a model sportsman - down to earth and hard-working - who has never stopped trying to be the best that he can.
"Everyone who has played with, coached and watched Jonny play should feel privileged to have had an involvement with him.
"Not only has he been a world-class player, but he has inspired thousands to play and watch the game of rugby.
"He will continue to do great things with Toulon, and I would like to go and see him in France to learn from his vast knowledge and experience of 13 years at the very top of the international game."