Mr Lazaridis, who founded RIM in 1984, will become vice chairman. Mr Balsillie will continue to sit on the board but not have any operational role.
Chief operating officer Thorsten Heins will replace them on Monday.
Investors have called for a strategy change as the company struggles to compete with Apple and Google.
Mr Lazaridis, speaking after the announcement, said he recognized things needed to change at the company.
“There comes a time in the growth of every successful company when the founders recognize the need to pass the baton to new leadership,” he said at a press conference at RIM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Canada.
“Jim and I went to the board and told them that we thought that time was now.”
Mr Heins started at RIM in 2007, having previously worked at Siemens Communications. He became the chief operating officer in August 2011, according to the company.
Mr Heins said: “As with any company that has grown as fast as we have, there have been inevitable growing pains”.
“We have learned from those challenges and, I believe, we have and will become a stronger company as a result.”