Many important combinatorial problems can be modelled as constraint satisfaction problems, hence identifying polynomial-time solvable classes of constraint satisfaction problems received a lot of attention. In this paper, we are interested in structural properties that can make the problem tractable. So far, the largest structural class that is known to be polynomial-time solvable is the class of bounded hypertree width instances introduced by Gottlob et al. . Here we identify a new class of polynomial-time solvable instances: those having bounded fractional edge cover number.Combining hypertree width and fractional edge cover number, we then introduce the notion of fractional hypertree width. We prove that constraint satisfaction problems with bounded fractional hypertree width can be solved in polynomial time (provided that a the tree decomposition is given in the input). We also prove that certain parameterized constraint satisfaction, homomorphism, and embedding problems are fixed-parameter tractable on instances having bounded fractional hypertree width.