The ATLAS detector at the LHC is used to search for high-mass states, such as heavy charged gauge bosons (W '), decaying to a charged lepton (electron or muon) and a neutrino. Results are presented based on the analysis of pp collisions at a center-of-mass energy of 7 TeV corresponding to an integrated luminosity of 1.04 fb(-1). No excess above Standard Model expectations is observed. A W ' with Sequential Standard Model couplings is excluded at the 95% confidence level for masses up to 2.15 TeV. (C) 2011 CERN. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.