Reduction of atrial fibrillation-associated stroke risk has become the leading indication for warfarin use. Optimal management of warfarin can only be achieved with a relatively complex infrastructure. Alternative anticoagulant agents have been developed, and 3 have demonstrated effectiveness, safety, and adherence that are comparable or superior to warfarin in the clinical trial setting. None of the novel agents requires routine laboratory testing to demonstrate effective anticoagulation. Whereas these new agents present potential advantages, such as fixed dosing and dramatically reduced intracranial hemorrhaging, they are also subject to caveats that ought to be considered in the context of an "ideal" anticoagulant. If used casually, they have the potential to worsen rather than improve health care outcomes. There is little question that the management burden of the novel agents will be less than with warfarin. However, with a hemorrhagic risk that was similar to warfarin in these trials, there will likely remain a significant need for both baseline education and some level of focused interval follow-up to assess for bleeding risk and adherence considerations. These novel agents offer a definite advance in the available management options for thromboembolic disease, but until we understand the requirements for safe and effective use in the routine clinical setting, we will not be able to establish the extent to which they should replace warfarin.