Authorities accuse Leopoldo Lopez of murder and terrorism in connection with violence surrounding four days of sporadic anti- government demonstrations that have left three people dead and both sides blaming each other for the bloodshed.
Mr Lopez said: "I will be there showing my face. If there is any illegal decision to jail me, then I will accept that decision and that infamous persecution by the state."
Protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until they force President Nicolas Maduro from power, although there is no sign of that happening yet.
In a nationally televised broadcast, Mr Maduro told Mr Lopez to hand himself in and said he had rejected pressure from Washington to drop the case against him.
The president said he had ordered three US consular officials to leave the country for conspiring against his government during meetings with students.