The 51-year-old two-term former governor broke the news on ABC's "This Week," a day after the Iowa straw poll gave him just 14 percent support for a third-place finish.
He said the "lift" he was looking for didn't materialize in the vote.
"That didn't happen, so I'm announcing this morning … that I'm going to be ending my campaign for president," he said.
Saturday night after the results came in showing Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in first place followed by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Pawlenty sent an e-mail to supporters that gave no indication he was withdrawing.
The e-mail's subject line said "Just the Beginning" and went on to say, "This is a long process to restore America -- we are just beginning, and I'm eager for the campaign."
Pawlenty said it was too early for him to endorse any of the other Republicans vying for the presidential nomination.
"A lot of times you see candidates start out weaker, they get stronger over time, or start out strong and fall by the wayside," he said. "So we just don't know, but I'm confident that our candidate will be a strong candidate."
Asked if he would be willing to run as a vice presidential candidate, Pawlenty said, "That's not something I'm even going to consider."