Post-cardiac surgery atrial fibrillation (AF) places patients at risk for thromboembolism and stroke, while the surgery and cardiopulmonary bypass alter the multiple factors of coagulation and may increase the tendency to bleed. It is in the context of this complex clinical picture that the physician must make decisions regarding the risks and benefits of anticoagulation therapy to lower the risk for thromboembolism and stroke associated with postoperative AF. Physicians must also weigh the usually transient and self-limited duration of new-onset postoperative AF against the potential for postoperative bleeding if anticoagulation therapy is started. No randomized, controlled clinical trials are available that specifically address the problem of anticoagulation therapy for the postoperative AF. In that context, recommendations are based on the established therapy for nonsurgical situations modified by the potential risk of bleeding in the postoperative patient.