The 51-year-old, who replaces the sacked Barry Smith, is a legend at Dens Park from his playing days during the 1980s, but has been out of senior football management since leaving Clyde in November 2009.
Brown, a member of Rangers nine-in-a-row side, has a ready-made assistant in his former team-mate Ray Farningham and will be watching his new side from the stands at today's televised Clydesdale Bank Premier League meeting with Celtic at Parkhead.
Brown, who could become a contender for the role on a permanent basis, clearly impressed chief executive Scot Gardiner and the majority of a fan-led board during a swift interview process, which was also thought to include former Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood and ex-St mirren chief Gus McPherson, but there was a chaotic response to his appointment among the club's rank-and-file last night.
Amid claims that the supporters representatives who comprise 55% of the board had exceeded their authority, social networking sites were rife with talk of an extraordinary general meeting of supporters groups and rumours that Brown had even instantly resigned.
Brown inherits a side rooted to the bottom of the SPL, but faces a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final against city rivals United in seven days' time.
That spell at Clyde, which saw the club's First Division status being preserved in his first year before Brown was sacked halfway through the next campaign, is his only previous senior managerial experience.
Brown had a role in the scouting department at Rangers and last summer launched an attempt to take control of the club.
"Having met with members of the Board and CEO Scot Gardiner this week, his passion for Dundee was evident," a club statement read. "His willingness to step up to the plate for the rest of the season alongside his immediate understanding of what we as a club need from the position convinced us he is the man to address the challenges ahead of us this season."