Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder, and confers a substantial mortality and morbidity from stroke, thromboembolism, heart failure, and impaired quality of life. With the increasingly elderly population in the developed world, as well as improvements in the management of myocardial infarction and heart failure, the prevalence of atrial fibrillation is increasing, resulting in a major public-health problem. This Review aims to provide an overview on the modern management of atrial fibrillation, with particular emphasis on pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches. Irrespective of a rate-control or rhythm-control strategy, stroke prevention with appropriate thromboprophylaxis still remains central to the management of this common arrhythmia. Electrophysiological approaches could hold some promise for a curative approach in atrial fibrillation.