Brown is now in jail and is expected to remain there at least through the weekend because his arrest warrant specified no bail.
The warrant was issued for a probation violation related to the singer's 2009 conviction for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna, sheriff's officials said.
According to the Associated Press, the warrant said the judge overseeing Brown's probation learned that the singer had been discharged from a rehabilitation facility "for failure to comply with rules and regulations of the program."
Deputies arrested him when he arrived at a rehab center in Malibu, sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Two sheriff's officials who had been briefed on the arrest told The Times that a judge asked the rehab facility to notify authorities if Brown showed up.
The facility called authorities Friday when Brown arrived. After confirming the warrant with the state Probation Department, deputies arrested the singer.
Several sources said they did not know how Brown may have violated the terms of his probation.
Probation Deputy Chief Reaver Bingham confirmed that his department submitted a report with the court about an alleged violation, but he declined to provide details.
He said the "court has to evaluate and consider" the report.
Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, said Friday afternoon he didn't have an immediate comment on the arrest.
In November the singer was ordered to submit to a 90-day live-in anger-management treatment program, where he would have to complete three eight-hour days of community service each week and undergo periodic drug tests.
Prosecutors in February asked a judge to take Brown into custody for failing to live up to a probation requirement that he "obey all laws."
Brown was arrested in October in
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin said he would not jail the singer after that incident because he had showed progress in rehab.