The 30-year-old pre-race favourite broke away in a seven-man group, including fellow Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Kamworor, after 20 kilometres on a sun-drenched and cool Berlin morning.
With four kilometres remaining, he pulled clear from Mutai after the pair had shaken off Kamworor a little earlier to become the first man to complete the race in less than two hours and three minutes.
This is the second consecutive world record in Berlin, considered the world’s fastest marathon course, after Kenyan Wilson Kipsang’s previous world best of 2:03:23 was set in the German capital last year.
“I feel good because I won a very tough race,” the soft-spoken Kimetto told reporters. “I felt good from the start and in the last five kilometres I felt I could do it (break the record).”
The tall Kimetto was by no means unknown and had provided evidence of his class at the distance with wins in Tokyo and Boston last year.
He had promised to attack the record in Berlin if conditions allowed and on Sunday he could not have hoped for better weather.
With temperatures hovering around eight degrees Celsius at the start and gradually inching warmer as the race progressed, the Kenyan stayed in the lead group from the beginning and was always positioned near the front.
The last pacemakers stepped aside at around 30 kilometres as the Kenyan trio gradually broke clear.
Mutai twice attempted to attack but Kimetto stayed strong and made his own move at the 38km mark, with his compatriot soon dropping some 20 metres behind.
With the iconic Brandenburg Gate in full view, Kimetto powered through the final stretch to clock a world best, with Mutai second 16 seconds behind, and Ethiopian Abera Kuma overtaking a fading Kamworor late on to claim third-Reuters