The Planck High Frequency Instrument (HFI) is designed to measure the temperature and polarization anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background and Galactic foregrounds in six ~30% bands centered at 100, 143, 217, 353, 545, and 857 GHz at an angular resolution of 10′ (100 GHz), 7′ (143 GHz), and 5′ (217 GHz and higher). HFI has been operating flawlessly since launch on 14 May 2009, with the bolometers reaching 100 mK the first week of July. The settings of the readout electronics, including bolometer bias currents, that optimize HFI's noise performance on orbit are nearly the same as the ones chosen during ground testing. Observations of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn have confirmed that the optical beams and the time responses of the detection chains are in good agreement with the predictions of physical optics modeling and pre-launch measurements. The Detectors suffer from a high flux of cosmic rays due to historically low levels of solar activity. As a result of the redundancy of Planck's observation strategy, theremoval of a few percent of data contaminated by glitches does not significantly affect the instrumental sensitivity. The cosmic ray flux represents a significant and variable heat load on the sub-Kelvin stage. Temporal variation and the inhomogeneous distribution of the flux results in thermal fluctuations that are a probable source of low frequency noise. The removal of systematic effects in the time ordered data provides a signal with an average noise equivalent power that is 70% of the goal in the 0.6-2.5 Hz range. This is slightly higher than was achieved during the pre-launch characterization but better than predicted in the early phases of the project. The improvement over the goal is a result of the low level of instrumental background loading achieved by the optical and thermal design of the HFI. © ESO, 2011.