The more than 130-year-old photographic film pioneer, which had tried to restructure to become a seller of consumer products like cameras, said it had also obtained a $950m (£616m), 18-month credit facility from Citigroup to keep it going.
"The board of directors and the entire senior management team unanimously believe that this is a necessary step and the right thing to do for the future of Kodak," Chairman and Chief Executive Antonio Perez said in a statement.
"Now we must complete the transformation by further addressing our cost structure and effectively monetizing non-core intellectual-property assets. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to emerge a lean, world-class, digital imaging and materials science company," he added.
At end September, the group had total assets of $5.1bn and liabilities of $6.75bn.
Kodak said it and its U.S. subsidiaries had filed for Chapter 11 business reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Non-U.S. subsidiaries were not covered by the filing and would continue to honor all obligations to their suppliers, it added.
Kodak once dominated its industry and its film was the subject of a popular Paul Simon song, but it failed to embrace more modern technologies quickly enough, such as the digital camera -- ironically, a product it even invented.
Its downfall hit its Rust Belt hometown of Rochester, New York, with employment there falling to about 7,000 from more than 60,000 in Kodak's heyday.
Its market value has sunk to below $150m from $31bn 15 years ago.
In recent years, chief executive Perez has steered Kodak's focus more toward consumer and commercial printers.
But that failed to restore annual profitability, something Kodak has not seen since 2007, or arrest a cash drain that has made it difficult for Kodak to meet its substantial pension and other benefits obligations to its workers and retirees.
Perez said bankruptcy protection would enable Kodak to continue to work to maximize the value of its technology assets, such as digital-imaging patents it says are used in virtually every modern digital camera, smartphone and tablet. The company has also built up patented printing technology.
Kodak said it was being advised by investment bank Lazard Ltd, which has been helping Kodak look for a buyer for its digital patents.
Other advisers included business-turnaround specialist FTI Consulting Inc, whose vice chairman, Dominic DiNapoli, would serve as chief restructuring officer for Kodak, supporting existing management.