The 36-year-old Somerset fast bowler underwent surgery on his right shoulder over the winter but, after showing a slight improvement, suffered a setback during a recent second XI game, which has left him with no option but to hang up his spikes with immediate effect.
Kirby made his debut for Yorkshire against Kent at Headingley in 2001. He took 7-50 in the second innings after being drafted in mid-match to replace Matthew Hoggard, who was called up by England, Yorkshire winning the game by nine wickets.
His third game saw him face Leicestershire, his former employers who had sacked him without a first-class appearance. Kirby claimed match figures of 12-72 and captured 47 championship wickets at 20.85 as the title was claimed. He played 47 games for the county, taking 182 wickets at 28.25.
Kirby, who has taken 572 wickets in a first-class career spanning 20 years, said: “It has come as a real blow to me to have to retire from the game.
“I may be retiring but I hope to remain involved at some level in a coaching capacity as I would love to give something back to this wonderful game,” added the Lancastrian, who also played for Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and England Lions during his career.