The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have confirmed its intention to prosecute Terry over remarks he made during an altercation with Ferdinand during a match at Loftus Road in October.
"I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible," Terry said.
He was caught on camera making a remark, although he claimed he was merely repeating an accusation he felt had been made by Ferdinand.
"I have never aimed a racist remark at anyone and count people from all races and creeds among my closest friends," he said.
"I will fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence. I have campaigned against racism and believe there is no place for it in society."
The English Football Association opted to stand by Terry for the most recent internationals, with Fabio Capello naming the Chelsea defender as captain for the friendly win over Sweden at Wembley Stadium last month. Capello said he believed Terry to be innocent until proven guilty.
In the wake of the eight-match ban handed to Liverpool's Luis Suarez for racial abuse aimed at Patrice Evra, Terry can expect similarly strong punishment if he is found guilty.
It also would place a question mark over his captaincy of the national side, an honour he regained only in March after having it stripped from him 13 months earlier due to problems in his private life.
Terry denied making a racial remark to Ferdinand during the Premier League match at Loftus Road on October 23.
But in a statement, Alison Saunders, of the CPS, said she had told Scotland Yard he should be prosecuted for "a racially aggravated public order offence".
Terry is one of the most-decorated English players in the modern game, having led his west London club to a string of trophies and league titles.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea coach, pledged his support to the defender shortly before the CPS made its announcement. "I will be fully supportive of John Terry, whatever the outcome," he said.
"We know exactly his human values and personality. They are never in doubt."
After the news that Terry would be charged broke the club issued a statement which in part read: "John has made it clear he denies the charge and is determined to do all he can to prove his innocence.
"Chelsea FC has always been fully supportive of John in this matter and will continue to be so. The club finds all forms of discrimination abhorrent and we are proud of the work we undertake campaigning on this important issue.
"Chelsea will not be commenting further on the subject while the legal process runs its course."
Videos of the alleged incident were circulated on the internet in the aftermath of the game.
Lawyers had asked police for more information regarding the incident before making their decision. New evidence, featuring previously unseen footage from TV cameras, was handed to the CPS last week.