Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a net profit of €1.4 billion.
Turnover rose 24 percent to €9 billion in the three months to March while provisions against bad loans were cut by 50 percent to €262 million.
“Our investment banking business was crucial in obtaining these results,” chief executive Josef Ackermann said in a statement.
Ackermann said the investment banking unit posted its best ever performance with earnings of €2.7 billion in the quarter.
“The world economy clearly stabilised in the first quarter (but) … some risks remain,” he added
The bank did not give an outlook for the full year.