Graham, who has been receiving ongoing physical therapy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., apparently does not feel well enough to travel across the Atlantic.
Doctors at Mayo recently treated the 81-year-old evangelist for a condition known as normal pressure hydrocephalus in which too much fluid collects in the brain. He also suffers from Parkinson's disease.
"Daddy's doing better now than he's done in years, not months," said his son, Franklin Graham. "But he's had very low stamina. He's concerned that taking this trip could weaken him more."
The 10-day conference--one of the most ambitious and costly ever undertaken by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association--has been in the planning for five years. About 10,000 young evangelists from all over the world are converging on Amsterdam to learn from Graham, who is considered the foremost Protestant spokesman of his time. Graham was to open and close the conference and meet with reporters.
Plans are to allow Graham to give a live greeting via satellite from Rochester. His son, Franklin, who also is an evangelist, will probably fill in his other duties.
Billy Graham said in a statement that he remains hopeful about future ministry.
"I am disappointed at this turn of events, but I have great peace that this is God's plan for me and for the Amsterdam 2000 Conference," the elder evangelist said. "I have experienced several deep spiritual moments during my hospitalization and feel that God has given me new vision and new strength for extended ministry in the future."
Graham received a shunt three weeks ago to help drain excess fluid from his brain. He is receiving daily physical therapy at Mayo on an outpatient basis and does not want to hamper the progress he has made.
"I think we just ran out of time, is what happened," said Mark DeMoss, a Graham spokesman for Amsterdam 2000. "If he gained strength in the next week he could still come over."
After preaching a crusade in Nashville in June, an exhausted Graham was admitted to the Mayo Clinic.
The Amsterdam conference, which ends Aug. 6, is billed as a "school of evangelism" in which speakers from all over the world--including the Most Rev. George Carey, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Billy Kim, the pastor of Korea's largest church--will address aspiring evangelists with little or no professional training.
More than 70 percent of those attending are from poor, developing nations.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association searched the world to find them and is paying many a stipend of up to $3,500 to attend.
"He's still going to be with them," said Franklin Graham, referring to the satellite interaction. "It's not quite the same as having him in person but there are other tremendous speakers that are going to be present."