The figure is also a significant growth on the £2.1bn announced for the final three months of 2010.
Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said: "Underlying profits held up well against a strong quarter one in 2010, we were profitable in all regions and customer groups, profits increased in each of our faster-growing regions and credit quality improved."
The underlying profit before tax was down on quarter one of last year at £3.4bn, compared with £3.7bn in 2010.
Loan impairment charges and credit risk provisions dropped 37 per cent to £1.5bn, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.
Gulliver said: "I am pleased to say that April’s performance was satisfactory and in line with expectations"
He added: "I believe HSBC is well placed to capitalise on global business opportunities."
Included in the costs for the period was the provision of £268m for payment protection insurance claims in the UK, following the recent judicial review.
Total costs were two per cent higher than the final quarter of 2010, the bank said that although high for both periods, when litigation and other regulatory provisions were excluded, costs were stable.
In the UK, legislation in respect of the bank levy, designed to discourage banks from risky forms of borrowing, has yet to be substantially enacted but HSBC expect this to cost £366m for the year of 2011.
The advances to deposits ratio for the group is currently 78.2 per cent, within the bank’s maximum benchmark ratio of 90 per cent, suggesting there is further room for lending.