Lambesis was taken into custody in Oceanside, near San Diego, said San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell.
Police had previously learned Lambesis was looking for someone to carry out the killing, Caldwell said.
"The information came to us late last week. We acted quickly on it. I believe that we averted a great tragedy," she said.
Caldwell said the ongoing investigation prevented her from disclosing any details about why Lambesis might have wanted to have his wife killed or how police first learned about what they described as his murder plan.
Lambesis' wife, Meggan, filed papers in San Diego Superior Court in September 2012 seeking a dissolution of marriage, according to an online court database.
A representative for the As I Lay Dying's record label, Metal Blade, could not immediately be reached for comment and it was unclear if Lambesis had an attorney. No one answered the door at the singer's home in Del Mar, 20 miles north of San Diego, and neighbors declined to talk about him.
Lambesis is a founding member of the band, which was formed in San Diego. The band in recent days had been touring in Asia. On Monday, Lambesis said on his Twitter page: "Goodbye China. I'll be home in about 15 hours."
Lambesis is expected to appear in court for an arraignment on Wednesday or Thursday. A spokesman for the San Diego District Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment.
The band's 2007 album "An Ocean Between Us" debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 list, and ranks as one of their top-selling releases. Last year, As I Lay Dying put out its sixth album "Awakened."
As I Lay Dying has at times been described in the media as a Christian group, but Lambesis said this year in an interview with heavy metal website Noisecreep that group members wanted "to be judged on the music" rather than their "personal beliefs."