"People often ask me if I ever imagined we'd be on the air this long," Kimmel said. "It's a weird compliment wrapped in an insult, but I'll take it."
He added that he feels lucky to work "for a network that showed enough patience to allow us to grow and, more importantly, pays almost no attention to what goes on after midnight."
Kimmel's milestone comes just days after Conan O'Brien ended his seven-month tenure as "Tonight" host, with Jay Leno set to reclaim the job he left last year. O'Brien's exit was preceded by a bitter public battle with NBC over its plan to shift him to a post-midnight slot.
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" airs at 12:05 a.m. EST weeknights on ABC. Also appearing on the anniversary show Tuesday are Kristen Bell and the Silversun Pickups band.
Among the highlights of Kimmel's run: a pair of comic films that went on to become Internet sensations, one in which Matt Damon and Kimmel's on-again, off-again girlfriend Sarah Silverman sing of their faux hot love affair, and the other with Kimmel striking back by claiming a romance with Damon's pal Ben Affleck.