108 primary events occurred (annual event rate 5.5%), including 13 major haemorrhages (0.7% a year). The hazard ratio was 0.91 (0.61 to 1.36) for low anticoagulation versus aspirin and 0.78 (0.34 to 1.81) for standard anticoagulation versus aspirin. Non-vascular death was less common in the low anticoagulation group than in the aspirin group (0.41, 0.20 to 0.82). There was no significant difference between the treatment groups in bleeding incidence. High systolic and low diastolic blood pressure and age were independent prognostic factors. In a general practice population (without established indications for coumarin) neither low nor standard intensity anticoagulation is better than aspirin in preventing primary outcome events. Aspirin may therefore be the first choice in patients with atrial fibrillation in general practice.