The first Test Championship, expected to take place in England in 2013, will not now be played before 2017.
The tournament was set to replace the Champions Trophy, a one-day competition that was last held in 2009.
"I am disappointed it is not going to take place sooner," said International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) described the announcement as "a setback for Test cricket".
The Test Championship, due to involve the top four teams in the ICC rankings, had been planned as a way of reviving international interest in the five-day format.
England currently lead the rankings, with South Africa second, India third and Australia in fourth.
Lorgat added that the proposed 2017 Championship, also scheduled to be held in England, would be "the first opportunity" to resurrect the tournament.
The delay comes because of a lack of "support and consent" from the ICC's broadcast partner.
England were originally awarded the 2013 Champions Trophy, which would have made way in the international cricket calendar for the Test Championship.
Lord's was set to be the venue for the final of Test Championship, but after missing out on welcoming the touring New Zealand team for a five-day game, the ground may only host one Test in 2013.
MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said: "The club's priority, given there will be a gap in the calendar in 2013, will be to secure the best possible major matches it can for Lord's to supplement the Australia Test and the New Zealand one-day international being played that year."