The Sale Sharks player replaces the dropped Fulgence Ouedraogo. He last played in the post two years ago in a heavy loss to New Zealand.
He played lock against Ireland and Wales in this year's Six Nations and was also deployed in the second row during the November Tests as well as for his club.
"He can play in both departments with just as much success," said head coach Marc Lievremont, saluting Chabal's versatility in unveiling the changes.
Lievremont has furthermore strengthened his pack by bringing in Lionel Faure at prop and Jerome Thion of Biarritz at lock.
Francois Trinh-Duc will start at fly-half in place of Benoit Baby, who suffered a knee injury in the win over defending champions Wales, for the only backline change.
Mathieu Bastareaud stays at centre alongside Yannick Jauzion, even though Florian Fritz has returned from suspension.
Thion, 31, benefits from Chabal's switch to partner Lionel Nallet in the second row having not played for France since last year's loss to the Welsh.
Prop Faure, Chabal's clubmate, returns having been left off the squad for the win over Wales after getting the nod at the expense of Fabien Barcella, who will be 23rd man.
Bastareaud, the 20-year-old cousin of France international footballer and former Arsenal captain William Gallas, retains his place after he starred on his debut in the win over Wales.
France team toplay England at Twickenham on Sunday: (15-1)
Maxime Medard (Toulouse); Julien Malzieu (Clermont), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Français), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Cedric Heymans (Toulouse); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Bourgoin); Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Sebastien Chabal (Sale/ENG), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse); Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt); Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français), Lionel Faure (Sale/ENG)
Replacements: Benjamin Kayser (Leicester/ENG), Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Biarritz)