The woman, aged 71, from Burscough, was pronounced dead at the scene in Cheshire at around 12.30am on Saturday (October 30).
Police say the fatal crash involved two cars and a lorry on the northbound M6 between junctions 17 for Sandbach and 18 for Holmes Chapel.
She had been a passenger in a Ford Kia when it was involved in a crash with a Mercedes and a HGV.
Driver caught 'snoring merrily away' on the M6 near Bamber Bridge with full-beam headlights and engine running
Fulwood flasher wearing balaclava leaves mum and her seven-year-old daughter feeling 'shaken up'
Leyland residents claim they are paying grounds maintenance fees to make it look "worse"
M6 to close overnight to allow two bridges damaged by vehicle strikes to be repaired
Lanes reopen after car crash on M6 brings Preston motorway traffic to a halt with severe delays expected
The woman has not been named by police at this stage, but her family in Burscough are being supported by specialist officers.
The driver of the Kia, a 49-year-old woman from Lancashire, was also taken to hospital with serious injuries. Her current condition is not known.
The occupants of the Mercedes and lorry were not injured.
Cheshire Police say a 41-year-old man from Stockport has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
He was also held on suspicion of causing injury by dangerous driving and driving under the influence of drugs before being released "under investigation".
A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "At 12.30am on Saturday, October 30, police were called to a collision on the M6 northbound carriageway between junction 17 to junction 18.
"The collision involved three vehicles - a Mercedes, a Kia and a HGV. A passenger in the Kia died at the scene.
"The family of the 71-year-old woman, from Burscough, has been informed and is being provided support by specialist officers.
"A 49-year-old woman from Lancashire sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
"A 41-year-old man from Stockport was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, causing injury by dangerous driving and drug driving. He has been released under investigation."