The suspect, 30-year-old Willis Dismuke Murray, of Concord, was arrested in Daly City on Thursday.
On March 18, 1997, the woman was walking in the 3300 block of Clayton Road at about 11 p.m. when a man yanked her from the sidewalk and raped her a short distance away, according to police.
At the time, police were unable to locate the suspect or any witnesses, and the case idled for lack of leads.
In June of this year, the Contra Costa County crime lab notified Concord police that biological evidence collected from the 1997 rape matched Murray's DNA, Concord police said.
After developing additional evidence to strengthen the links between the rape and Murray, detectives issued a warrant for his arrest. Murray was taken into custody without incident as he exited a Daly City home on Thursday.
Because Murray was 17 at the time of the crime, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office issued a juvenile petition charging him with kidnapping and forcible rape, Concord police said.
Murray is being held without bail in Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez.
Police are exploring the possibility that Murray may have been involved in other unsolved sexual assaults in the area, and detectives have distributed Murray's information to other law enforcement agencies.
Police said the victim has been informed of Murray's arrest.
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective Greg Rodriguez with the Concord police at (925) 603-5822, or by calling the anonymous tip line at (925) 603-5836.