Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has dissolved parliament after efforts to form an interim government failed.
Caretaker Prime Minister Romano Prodi will hold a cabinet meeting Wednesday to formally decide the date of the election.
It is widely expected to take place in mid-April, only two years after the previous vote. The election must be held within 70 days of the dissolution of parliament.
Italy plunged into the latest political crisis last month after a small party withdrew from Mr. Prodi's center-left coalition, causing the government to fall.
The president and many political leaders had supported creation of a short-term government to change voting rules before holding new elections, but Mr. Prodi's rivals, opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi and other center-right party leaders, rejected the idea.
Voter surveys showed that a center-right coalition would win the elections if they were held now.
A center-right victory would return Mr. Berlusconi to the post of prime minister for the third time. He narrowly lost to Mr. Prodi in the 2006 election.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.