Atrial fibrillation (AF) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are increasingly prevalent in the general population and share common risk factors such as older age, hypertension and diabetes mellitus. The presence of CKD increases the risk of incident AF, and, likewise, AF increases the risk of CKD development and/or progression. Both conditions are associated with substantial thromboembolic risk, but patients with advanced CKD also exhibit a paradoxical increase in bleeding risk. In the landmark randomized clinical trials that compared non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) with warfarin for thromboprophylaxis in patients with AF, the efficacy and safety of NOACs in patients with mild-to-moderate CKD were similar to those in patients without CKD. Dose adjustment of NOACs as per the prescribing label is required in this population. Owing to limited trial data, evidence-based recommendations for the management of patients with AF and severe CKD or end-stage renal disease on dialysis are lacking. Observational cohort studies have reported conflicting results, and the management of these particularly vulnerable patients remains challenging and requires careful assessment of stroke and bleeding risk and, where appropriate, use of warfarin with good-quality anticoagulation control.