The US carmaker posted a net of 7.6 billion dlrs in 2011, up from 4.7 billion dlrs in 2011.
In the fourth quarter, earnings m to $468 million from $510 million a year earlier.
GM's 2011 operating profit, which provides a better indicator of the underlying profitability of the company's core car business, rose to 7.4 billion dlrs from 6.6 billion dlrs in 2010.
The strong results mostly reflected the carmaker's performance in its North American home market, which continues to recover from a sharp decline a few years ago.
But in Europe, GM lost 562 million dlrs in the fourth quarter and for the full year posted a loss of 747 million dlrs. That shortfall narrowed from 2 billion dlrs in 2010.
CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement that GM will build on its 2011 results and bring a range of new cars to market this year. He also pledged to "make GM a far more efficient global team."
Akerson said he intends to reduce the break-even level in Europe and South America and boost global revenues for the company. He didn't provide details.
GM filed for bankruptcy protection nearly three years ago and subsequently received a $50 billion U.S. government bailout. Following a 23 billion dlr initial public offering late last year, the government still owns 26.5 pc of the company.