"Gregg led the response to Target's 2013 data breach," the board said. "He held himself personally accountable and pledged that Target would emerge a better company. We are grateful to him for his tireless leadership and will always consider him a member of the Target family."
The board added that "now is the right time for the new leadership at Target." Steinhafel's departure is effective immediately.
This is just the latest move in Target's reshuffling. In April, Target appointed a new chief information officer and announced plans for a chief information security officer and a chief compliance officer.
Steinhafel will be replaced on an interim basis by Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Steinhafel is a 35-year "lifer" who was commended for his merchandising ability, but whose tenure was inevitably marked by the 2013 data breach.
The Journal adds:
"Target spokeswoman Dustee Jenkins said Mr. Steinhafel's decision to step down was just made recently after extensive discussions.
"Target's board has been meeting monthly since the data breach, where 40 million credit and debit cards and personal information of 70 million people was stolen, was disclosed in mid-December. The last meeting was two weeks ago, Ms. Jenkins said.
"'The last several months have Tested Target in unprecedented ways,' Mr. Steinhafel said in a letter to Target's board Monday, adding that the company has already taken steps to improve its data security."