Leppard will help program the 2005-06 season and advise the committee searching for a successor to former music director Uriel Segal, who left earlier this year after his contract was not renewed.
The 77-year-old Leppard was the music director of the Indianapolis Symphony from 1987 to 2001, and remains conductor laureate of that orchestra.
"He's a real sage in the industry," Louisville Orchestra executive director Scott Provancher told the Courier-Journal. "We were looking for that kind of figure to lend some stability to our decisions."
The ensemble nearly shut down in the summer of 2003 before musicians agreed to accept pay cuts.