Exports rose 2.7 percent from January to a calendar- and seasonally-adjusted €84 billion, the Destatis statistics office said, while imports were 3.7 percent higher at €71.9 billion.
The trade surplus slipped to €12.1 billion from €12.7 billion a year earlier.
Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a slightly higher surplus of €12.5 billion.
In January, German exports declined 1.0 percent while imports rose 3.7 percent, Destatis said, revising the import figure from an initial estimate of 2.3 percent for Europe's biggest economy.
On a 12-month basis, exports rose 21 percent in February, while imports were 27 percent higher.
Germany's current account surplus, a broader measure of trade in goods and services, fell to €8.9 billion in February on an unadjusted basis from €10.2 billion a year earlier, Destatis said.
That was well below an analyst forecast of €12 billion.
Commerzbank economist Ulrike Rondorf noted that demand for German products
was still high and added: "The export boom should continue over the year, given that the global economy will probably grow at a similarly strong rate in 2011 to last year, at 4.3 percent."
Germany, the world's second biggest exporter after China, was not dependent on Asia, Rondorf said, and exports "together with investment in machinery and equipment will remain the main driver of strong growth in Germany this year."
Commerzbank forecast German economic growth of 3.0 percent in 2011, compared with a government estimate of 2.3 percent that could be revised next week.
On Thursday, leading German economic institutes said they expected the economy to expand by 2.8 percent this year.