AIMS The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) enrolled in the Central Registry of the German Competence NETwork on Atrial Fibrillation (AFNET) and to assess current medical practice in patients treated at various levels of medical care in Germany. METHODS AND RESULTS From February 2004 to March 2006, 9582 ambulatory and hospitalized patients with ECG-documented AF were enrolled by 194 participating study centres from all levels of medical care in Germany. Clinical type of AF was reported as paroxysmal in 2893, persistent in 1873, and permanent in 3134 patients or classified as a first episode in 1035 patients. Predisposing conditions were common and present in 87.6% of the patients. Most patients were symptomatic with AF (75.1%). Rhythm control in persistent AF was provided to 53.4% of the symptomatic patients and to 47.8% of the patients without symptoms. Anticoagulation for stroke prevention was given to 71.4% of the patients considered eligible by applicable guidelines and to 48.4% of patients with low risk where guidelines do not recommend anticoagulation. CONCLUSION This registry provides insight into current medical care of patients with AF in Germany. The use of oral anticoagulation in eligible patients was among the highest reported, whereas decisions on rate and rhythm control often do not follow current recommendations.