NEW YORK - A judge agreed yesterday to free former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn from a New York City jail on the condition that he post $1 million in bail and remain under house arrest, under the watch of armed guards, at a private apartment in Manhattan.

The bail decision came less than a day after Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

The 62-year-old banker and diplomat wore an expression of relief after Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus announced his decision in a packed Manhattan courtroom. Later, he blew a kiss toward his wife.

The ruling didn't free Strauss-Kahn immediately from the bleak Rikers Island jail complex on an island in the East River. Authorities need time to review and approve the security arrangements involved in his home detention, which lawyers said would be at an apartment rented by his wife.

Strauss-Kahn will also have to take out a $5 million insurance bond.

"He's going back to Rikers tonight, and we expect him to be released tomorrow," said William Taylor, one of his attorneys.

Meanwhile, the United States balked at immediately backing a European to lead the IMF, saying only that it wanted an open and prompt succession.

Strauss-Kahn's resignation has set off a scramble to find a new leader for the powerful organization, which directs billions of dollars to troubled nations to stabilize the global economy.

Europe staked its traditional claim to the post. But fast-growing nations like China and Brazil said it was time to break that monopoly and seek an IMF chief from a developing country.

The United States, which has the largest share of votes for a single country, declined to publicly weigh in.