The company also pushed its 2010 earnings forecast higher, keeping up an ongoing aggressive theme first presented at a meeting with investors last autumn.
It was a blowout quarter, Soleil Securities analyst Mark Gulley said. Clearly, they are playing offense now after the recession.
Sales jumped across the globe for DuPont, including in the United States, where chemical sales had lagged in 2009. In the Asia Pacific region, sales increased 71 percent.
DuPont said demand for its photovoltaic and semiconductor materials helped fuel much of the revenue jump. Sales to the automotive and industrial markets also increased during the period.
In a surprising move, pretax income from the company's pharmaceutical income was $60 million higher than expected. Profit from this unit was slowly fading as DuPont's patent for the heart drug Cozaar expires in stages this year.
Macro trends drove first-quarter demand for our science-based innovations, and DuPont was ready, Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman said in a statement.
Total volume in the agricultural and nutrition segment, however, increased only 1 percent. The first quarter is traditionally when farmers buy supplies for the spring planting season.
North American seed volumes did increase, helping to offset a delay in the European planting season, DuPont said.
The company did not comment on its ongoing seed-trait licensing battle with rival Monsanto Co or on current concerns about agribusiness monopolies.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Wilmington, Delaware-based company reported net income of $1.13 billion, or $1.24 per share, compared with $489 million, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts expected earnings of $1.06 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 23.5 percent to $8.48 billion. Analysts expected $8.06 billion.
DuPont boosted its 2010 earnings outlook to a range of $2.50 to $2.70 per share, having previously forecast $2.15 to $2.45. Analysts expect $2.39 per share.
Costs for energy, freight and raw materials fell about 2 percent during the quarter, despite an increase in the cost of crude oil.
DuPont shares rose 1.7 percent to $41.65 in premarket trading.
Also Tuesday, DuPont peers Celanese and Ashland posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Maureen Bavdek)