Steyn's inclusion is subject to fitness as he has not played since suffering a shoulder injury in the first Test against England in December.
What was at first thought to be a minor injury was later diagnosed as a bone stress reaction likely to keep him out of action until shortly before the tournament. The South African squad includes 10 of the player, who helped them reach the semi-finals of the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
A notable exclusion is fast bowler Morne Morkel, although Morkel has only played in one Twenty20 international since then. There was no place, either, for Morkel's elder brother, Albie, 34, who had been the subject of speculation that he might earn a recall after showing good domestic form.
Players new to the world event are fast bowlers Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada, batsman Rilee Rossouw and all-rounders Chris Morris and David Wiese.
South Africa will use the same squad in two Twenty20 internationals against England on February 19 and 21 as well as three matches against Australia between March 4 and 9.
In the most recent bulletin on Steyn, Cricket South Africa targeted the Australia series as the most likely return for him. South Africa will open their World Twenty20 campaign against England in Mumbai on March 18.
Also in their group are Sri Lanka, the West Indies and a qualifier. In their two most recent T20 series in Asia, South Africa beat Bangladesh and India on their own home turf.
In between, they shared a home series against New Zealand. South African captain Faf du Plessis said: "The World T20 is the competition that we have been working towards over the last 18 months. We have had disappointments in the past and this year is another great opportunity for us to lift that elusive ICC trophy. We have been playing together as a squad for some time now and are really hungry and motivated."
South Africa's 15-man squad:
Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.