The 2014 Race to Dubai champion, and the current leader in the standings, has played only nine European Tour events this season. He missed a month of action after rupturing ligaments in his ankle while playing soccer with friends. The injury caused him to miss the Scottish Open, Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
McIlroy, who returned to No. 1 in the world this week, has agreed to play at least three more tournaments before the end of the year, bringing his total to 12 European Tour events overall.
Without the exemption, McIlroy would have been ineligible to compete.
“There are exceptional circumstances and I have taken this situation and the resulting decision very seriously,” said Keith Pelley, the new chief executive of the European Tour.
McIlroy, who has won three times worldwide this season, leads the Race to Dubai standings by more than 300,000 points over Danny Willett. Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose and Branden Grace are Nos. 3, 4 and 5, respectively.