Hester, who has not played this season, announced his retirement on his Twitter page Tuesday following 11 years in the league.
"Over the last year, I've spent time reflecting on my career surrounded by friends and family, and I realized it's time for me to officially retire from the NFL," he said.
Hester entered the league in 2006, when the Bears selected him in the second round of the draft.
While he enjoyed a few solid years as a wide receiver with 665 receiving yards in 2008, 757 in 2009 and 504 in 2014, he made his mark as one of the best returners in NFL history.
The Miami product ran 14 punts back for scores throughout his career, seven of which came in his first two seasons. He also had five regular-season kickoff returns for touchdowns and started Super Bowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts with a touchdown on the opening kickoff.
The four-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All-Pro member is first on the all-time punt return touchdown list, third on the punt return yardage list with 3,695, tied for eighth on the kickoff return touchdown list and 11th on kickoff return yard age list with 7,333.