The 38-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which happened in Coxhoe at about 9pm yesterday.
A spokeswoman for Durham Police said a dark blue Ford Transit van was involved in a collision with a grey Honda Civic on the B6291, at the junction with Park Hill.
The driver of the Honda died at the scene.
The 28-year-old driver of the Transit van was arrested at the scene in connection with the collision.
He has been interviewed by officers and released under investigation to allow for further enquiries to take place.
A woman in her twenties, who was a passenger in the Transit van, suffered non-serious injuries and was taken to University Hospital of North Durham by paramedics.
A Nissan Qashqai, which was parked nearby, was also damaged in the collision.
A spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “Officers would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the collision, or who saw the vehicles prior to the incident.
“They would also like to speak to anyone who may have any dash cam footage of the collision, or the vehicles beforehand.”
Anyone with any information should call Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting incident number 483 of October 2.