In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) the intensity of aerobic training is limited by dyspnea. Improving strength of the inspiratory muscles could enhance aerobic exercise training by reducing exercise-related dyspnea. We examined effects of home-based inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and cycle ergometry training (CET) in 53 patients with moderate to severe COPD (FEV(1)% pred, 50 +/- 17 [mean +/- SD]). Patients were randomly assigned to 4 mo of training in one of four groups: IMT, CET, CET + IMT, or health education (ED). Patients were encouraged to train to the limits of their dyspnea. Inspiratory muscle strength and endurance increased in IMT and CET + IMT groups compared with CET and ED groups (p < 0. 01). Peak oxygen uptake increased and heart rate, minute ventilation, dyspnea, and leg fatigue decreased at submaximal work rates in the CET and CET + IMT groups compared with the IMT and ED groups (p < 0. 01). There were no differences between the CET and CET + IMT groups. Home-based CET produced a physiological training effect and reduced exercise-related symptoms while IMT increased respiratory muscle strength and endurance. The combination of CET and IMT did not produce additional benefits in exercise performance and exercise-related symptoms. This is the first study to demonstrate a physiological training effect with home-based exercise training.