Craig Levein has been sacked as Scotland boss, the Scottish FA has confirmed, with Under-21 coach Billy Stark being put in temporary charge.
"The Scottish FA tonight announces that Craig Levein has been relieved of his duties as Scotland national coach," said a SFA statement.
"The board of the Scottish FA has taken the decision primarily due to the disappointing results.
"Billy Stark will take interim charge for the friendly against Luxembourg."
The decision comes the day before the squad was scheduled to be announced for next week's friendly.
But that will now be delayed while the present coach of the Under-21 side considers his selection and the SFA look for an interim replacement to undertake Stark's former duties ahead of a match against Portugal.
The SFA said it had taken into account 48-year-old Levein's "stated intention - expressed to the president and chief executive - to leave the job at the end of the World Cup campaign".
SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "We are taking this decision with real sadness.
"Craig has worked hard to bring success and has been thoroughly professional in his approach to the job.
"He has achieved a great deal with the team and in other areas, such as the performance strategy.
"However, he would be the first to agree that football is a results-driven business.
"The key factor is that we are bottom of the group, but we are not bottom of the group material and want to move up the group as far as possible and prepare for France 2014."
Levein had vowed not to resign and Regan revealed that the coach's contract had not been terminated and that he would continue to be paid until it runs out in summer 2014.
The seven-man SFA board met at the end of last week to consider the Fifer's position and had come in for widespread criticism for continuing their deliberations over the weekend.
Asked if there had been a split on the board over the future of the former Hearts, Leicester City and Dundee United manager, Regan replied: "The board came to a collective agreement and decided it was time for a change."
Bookmakers have made former Celtic and Southampton manager Gordon Strachan a clear early favourite to succeed Dunfermline-born Levein.
He is followed by former Scotland manager Alex McLeish, who exited Aston Villa in the summer, and Mark Wotte, the Dutchman brought in by Levein to be SFA performance director.
"After the Luxembourg match, the board will meet to begin the process of identifying and recruiting the next national coach to take us forward," said Regan.
"We will give ourselves time, given our fixture schedule, to find the right person for the job."
Levein, who took over in December 2009, had tried to convince Regan and president Campbell Ogilvie that he should remain in post during a meeting early last week.
He had already been under pressure after Scotland drew their opening Hampden qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia.
Defeats by Wales and Belgium led to a widespread expectation that he would be removed from his post, with his side sitting bottom of World Cup qualifying Group A.
Scotland have only won three of their 12 competitive matches with the former international defender in charge and have gathered two points from four matches in their World Cup group, with qualification already looking well beyond them.
The Scots travel to face Luxembourg for their friendly on 14 November but do not have another qualifier until hosting Wales on 22 March.