BACKGROUND: Gender-based clinical differences are increasingly being identified as having significant influence on the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD), including atrial fibrillation (AF). OBJECTIVE: To perform detailed clinical phenotyping on a cohort of hospitalised patients with chronic forms of AF to understand if gender-based differences exist in the clinical presentation, thrombo-embolic risk and therapeutic management of high risk patients hospitalised with chronic AF. METHODS: We are undertaking the Standard versus Atrial Fibrillation spEcific managemenT studY (SAFETY) - a multi-centre, randomised controlled trial of an AF-specific management intervention versus usual care. Extensive baseline profiling of recruited patients was undertaken to identify gender-specific differences for risk delineation. RESULTS: We screened 2,438 patients with AF and recruited 335 into SAFETY. Of these, 48.1% were women who were, on average, 5 years older than their male counterparts. Women and men displayed divergent antecedent profiles, with women having a higher thrombo-embolic risk but being prescribed similar treatment regimens. More women than men presented to hospital with co-morbid thyroid dysfunction, depression, renal impairment and obesity. In contrast, more men presented with coronary artery disease (CAD) and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Even when data was age-adjusted, women were more likely to live alone (odds ratio [OR] 2.33; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.47 to 3.69), have non-tertiary education (OR 2.69; 95% CI 1.61 to 4.48) and be symptomatic (OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.06 to 3.52). CONCLUSION: Health care providers should be cognisant of gender-specific differences in an attempt to individualise and, hence, optimise the management of patients with chronic AF and reduce potential morbidity and mortality.