The Emmy-winning comedy will stretch its sixth season over two years, according to HBO executives who made the announcement at a meeting of the Television Critics Association.
Twenty episodes will begin production in March. Twelve will be broadcast this summer and the rest starting in January 2004.
HBO didn't entirely shut the door to more episodes, however.
"All the principals involved felt that this was a strong place to go off," said Carolyn Strauss, HBO's executive vice president in charge of original programming. "If somewhere along the line they change their mind and feel that they could do more of this, it would be fantastic."
The show stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon as 30-something women yearning for sex, love and the perfect footwear in New York City.
For Parker, who's been a working actress since age 13 as the star of Broadway's "Annie," the end of the hit HBO show might provide a welcome break.
Parker, 37, who is married to fellow actor Matthew Broderick, gave birth to their first child, a baby boy, last October and is a busy new mom.
It wouldn't be surprising if co-star Cattrall was also in the mood for a change of pace. The 46-year-old British-born actress began her professional training at age 11 at the London Academy of Music and Art and went on to string of roles she once described as "playing sexually aware women."
She hasn't been afraid to branch out professionally and last year came out with a how-to book on sex, co-written with her husband, Mark Levinson. The book sold well but the marriage subsequently ran into choppy waters and Cattrall and Levinson have since separated.
The end of "Sex and the City" isn't the only change afoot at HBO. 'Sex' and "The Sopranos" together established the cable TV channel's credentials as a producer of hit original programming. But "The Sopranos" is also finishing its run, after five seasons, with the last show set to air next year.
Still viable on HBO is the well-received "Six Feet Under." The channel also has hopes for several new shows, including the Western "Deadwood" and "Carnivale," about a traveling carnival in the Depression era.