The DoH has said 1,860 practices, grouped into 52 consortia, will become pathfinders with immediate effect.
GP revealed earlier this month that a senior DoH official had said 40 to 50 consortia would be in the programme's first wave.
This means that around a quarter of England's population will be covered by active commissioning consortia.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said he was delighted with the response and 'evident enthusiasm' for the scheme.
'They have demonstrated an enthusiasm and excitement for change and shown that there are many GPs ready and willing to take on commissioning responsibilities, so they can make the decisions that better meet the needs of their local communities and improve outcomes for their patients,' he said.
'This first wave of pathfinders is just the start, many more GPs have already come forward to be included in the rolling programme of approved pathfinders and more will be announced in the coming weeks and months.'
The NAPC welcomed the announcement, outlining that the programme offers ‘a real opportunity’ to drive up quality in primary and secondary care.
NAPC chairman Dr Johnny Marshall said: ‘This is a memorable day in the history of primary care, and is one for which NAPC has consistently battled for many years. We are delighted that it has finally arrived.
‘Today marks the start of a journey in which the landscape both of primary care and the wider NHS will transform to become increasingly patient sensitive and patient driven.’