Objective To investigate the expression profiles of the circulating microRNA (miRNA) of patients suffering from persistent or paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) by using miRNA chips to provide the basis for further investigation of the regulatory mechanisms of miRNAs in AF. Methods A total of 10 patients with persistent AF in 5 and paroxysmal AF in 5 and 5 healthy volunteers were enrolled in the study from Cardiology Department of General Hospital of PLA. Their whole blood specimens were taken to extract the total serum RNA. MiRNA chips were used for hybridization, and then miRNA expression profiles were obtained. The volcano plot method was adopted to search for differentially expressed miRNAs, and MEV software was used to conduct cluster analyses. Results Compared with the healthy control group, 13 miRNA models exhibited significant differential expressions in the serum from persistent or paroxysmal AF patients. Among the 13 models, 8 were up-regulated of expression, namely, miR-316, miR-3612, miR-634, miR-376a, miR-517b, miR-377*, miR-590-3p, and miR-664, and 5 were downregulated, namely, miR-1, kshv-miR-K12-5, miR-378c, miR-204, and miR-27a. A difference in miRNA expression profiles between patients with persistent and paroxysmal AF was discovered. Conclusion The circulating miRNA expression profiles may present significant changes in persistent or paroxysmal AF patients, showing that circulating miRNA could be used to study the regulatory mechanisms in the occurrence and development of AF.