The Universal Pictures movie will be based on Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 best-selling book by the same name.
Zamperini was an Air Force officer who survived a plane crash during the war, and then spent 47 days on a life raft, only to be captured by the Japanese and forced to serve hard time in a POW camp.
Jolie, who earned a supporting actress Oscar for her work in "Girl Interrupted," helmed her first feature film "In the Land of Blood and Honey" last year.
"I read Laura Hillenbrand's brilliant book, and I was so moved by Louie Zamperini's heroic story, I immediately began to fight for the opportunity to make this film," Jolie said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday. "Louie is a true hero and a man of immense humanity, faith and courage. I am deeply honored to have the chance to tell his inspiring story."
"In her life and in her work, Angelina has embraced stories and causes involving great struggle and triumph over tremendous odds and the basic human condition," Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and co-Chairman Donna Langley and Walden Media Chief Executive Officer Michael Bostick said in a joint statement. "She has a real ability to illustrate the strength in human spirit which will be essential in telling Lou's story of survival and great heroism."