Despite the significant advances over the last 50 years with regard to anticoagulant therapy, warfarin remains the definitive standard for the long-term prevention of thromboembolic events in at-risk patients, except those with acute coronary syndromes, in which antiplatelets are preferred. Ximelagatran, a prodrug of melagatran, is an orally administered direct thrombin inhibitor whose therapeutic potential has been investigated in venous thromboembolism, acute coronary syndromes and prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation. Clinical studies have demonstrated ximelagatran to be comparable in efficacy to the oral vitamin K antagonist warfarin and low molecular weight heparin for prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism, comparable to warfarin for stroke prevention in the setting of atrial fibrillation, and, when combined with aspirin, more effective than aspirin alone at preventing major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with a recent myocardial infarction. Double-blind trials have also revealed the efficacy of ximelagatran in the secondary prevention of venous thromboembolism and shown the agent to be as effective as enoxaparin/warfarin in treating patients with acute deep vein thrombosis. Adverse effects with ximelagatran include elevations in alanine transaminase (ALT), which may require monitoring, and bleeding complications. Bleeding complications appear to be less than or at least comparable to those occurring with standard anticoagulant treatments like warfarin or low molecular weight heparin. In addition to its favorable efficacy and safety profile in comparison with standard anticoagulant therapy, the convenience of its oral, fixed-dose administration without the need for anticoagulation monitoring might help encourage a wider use of appropriate anticoagulation using ximelagatran across the population at risk, reducing the incidence of thromboembolic events.