Background: The association between perceived stress and atrial fibrillation (AF) remains unclear. Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the association between perceived stress and AF. Methods: A total of 25,530 participants (mean age 65 ± 9.4 years; 54 % women; 41 % blacks) from the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study were included in this analysis. Logistic regression was used to compute odds ratios (OR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) for the association between the short version of the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale and AF. Results: In a multivariable analysis adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and potential confounders, the prevalence of AF was found to increase with higher levels of stress (none: OR = 1.0, referent; low stress: OR = 1.12, 95 % CI = 0.98, 1.27; moderate stress OR = 1.27, 95 % CI = 1.11, 1.47; high stress: OR = 1.60, 95 % CI = 1.39, 1.84). Conclusion: Increasing levels of perceived stress are associated with prevalent AF in REGARDS.