He succeeds Cardinal Paul Poupard, who will remain president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Cardinal Tauran, 64, will assume his new post in September.
Jean-Louis Tauran was born in Bordeaux, France.
He was ordained a priest in 1969 and called to Rome in 1973, where he attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He entered the Vatican's diplomatic service in 1975 and was assigned to the Dominican Republic, where he remained until 1979, when he was transferred to Lebanon.
He remained in Lebanon until 1983 when he was called Rome.
In 1988, he was designated undersecretary of what is now the Secretariat of State's Section for Relations with States, a post he held until 1990 when he was appointed secretary of the section.
He was ordained a bishop in 1991 and elevated to cardinal in 2003.