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.