The man scaled the fence along the White House north lawn about 7:45 p.m. EDT, The Washington Post reported. The Secret Service identified the man as James Dirk Crudup, 41, who was described as homeless. CNN reported.
During live coverage of the incident, CNN televised images of two uniformed Secret Service officers, with guns drawn, taking the man into custody within about 10 or 15 feet of the fence.
A Secret Service spokesman said investigators were examining a backpack the man had tossed over the fence.
Police locked down the area for a short time, CNN said.
Crudup was to be charged with unlawful entry, the Secret Service said. He also faced a contempt of court charge because he had been ordered in the past not to come near the White House because of previous incidents, CNN reported.