Thompson, who ascended to the CEO position in 2012, spent nearly 25 years at the company. His retirement will take effect March 1. Easterbrook, who led McDonald's U.K. and European business units, was elected to the company's Board of Directors, filling the vacancy created by Thompson's departure.
Today's announcement comes just days after the world's largest fast-food chain warned of weak results in the first half of 2015, and said it was cutting its construction budget to its lowest level in more than five years.
"It struggled to recover from a food scare in China that battered Asian sales and wrestled with economic weakness and political upheaval in Europe, its top revenue market. The company also lost market share to rivals in the United States, where its image has been dented by frequent protests from workers seeking higher wages.
"Sales at established restaurants, a closely watched gauge of performance also known as comparable sales, fell during the fourth quarter and for all of 2014. Revenue and net income suffered the same fates."
As part of its attempt to stage a turnaround, McDonald's has tried to focus on offering healthier menu options.