At the end of the season, the bottom two finishing clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are relegated to Bundesliga 2 and Liga 3 respectively. The fight against relegation from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, and for promotion to the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, takes place as follows.

Two relegation/promotion games are played between the third-last team in the Bundesliga and the team placed third in Bundesliga 2. The same happens between the third-last team in Bundesliga 2 and the team placed third in Liga 3. The relegation/promotion games are played on a first leg and return match basis, according to the rules of the UEFA club championships for games in the knock-out system. The club with more days free from play before the first leg according to the fixture list has the right to play the second leg game at home. Where both teams have an equal number of days free from play, the decision shall be made by drawing lots.

Since the reintroduction of the relegation/promotion games in the 2008/2009 season, a third deciding game is no longer played, as was the case up to 1991. The away goals rule applies instead: if an equal number of goals has been scored during the first and second leg games, the team with the most away goals is the winner. If a second leg game ends in a draw after 90 minutes, two 15-minute halves of extra time are granted. If there is still no winner, it then goes to a penalty shoot-out.

The winners of the relegation/promotion games qualify for the Bundesliga or the Bundesliga 2 (or remain there, as the case may be), and the losers are relegated to Bundesliga 2 or Liga 3 (or remain there, as the case may be). DFL GmbH determines the match schedule for games played between the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs, while the fixtures between the Bundesliga 2 and Liga 3 clubs are set by DFL e.V. in coordination with DFB. Relegation from and promotion to Bundesliga 2 is also regulated according to Articles 46, 54 and 55 of the DFB rules of the game.