Walt Disney Co. chief executive officer Bob Iger made the announcement while discussing Disney's fiscal year results.
“John created Toy Story and directed the first two films, and it’s great to have him back directing one of our most valuable properties,” Iger said.
The new story was conceived by the original Toy Story writing team: Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich.
“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us,” said Lasseter. “We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. Toy Story 3 ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie—and I wanted to direct it myself.”
The blog also reports that the writing team Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever) have joined the project, and Pixar veteran Galyn Susman (ABC’s Toy Story OF TERROR!) will produce.
Lasseter is one of the co-founders of Pixar, and also serves as Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where his creative input has contributed to its latest renaissance. His last project as director was 2011's Cars 2. He is also attached to direct its sequel, Cars 3.
Update: Lasseter has revealed to The LA Times that Toy Story 4 will be a "love story" and will pick up where Toy Story 3 left off.
He also promised that the sequel was not a cash grab.
"A lot of people in the industry view us doing sequels as being for the business of it, but for us it's pure passion," said Lasseter. "We only make sequels when we have a story that's as good as or better than the original.
"We don't just, because of the success of a film, automatically say we're going to do a sequel and then figure out what we're going to do."