Several studies of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have shown that pulmonary rehabilitation, consisting of at least three training sessions a week, improves exercise performance and health status. This study investigates feasibility, effect and economic aspects of a rehabilitation programme consisting of two sessions a week for 8 weeks. Twenty-four patients with moderate COPD were randomized to rehabilitation and 21 to placebo. Patients were assigned to an 8-week programme of exercise plus education (Exercise group) or conventional community care (Placebo group). The rehabilitation program was carried out in a hospital outpatient setting and consisted of 16 h exercise and 13.5 h of education. The exercise group received physiotherapy and education twice a week. Seven patients did not complete the programme. The characteristics of the 38 COPD-patients at baseline were the following: (mean +/- SD) forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) 1.1+/-0.4 1 (47% of predicted), 6-min walking distance (6MWD) 413+/-75 m, score of St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) 44+/-21. Health-status, assessed by SGRQ and The Psychological General Well-being (PGWB) Index, did not improve. Rehabilitation resulted in an insignificant improvement in the 6MWD [29 m (95% confidence interval: -8 -66 m)]. We conclude that a rehabilitation program consisting of exercise and education twice a week for 8 weeks had no effect on exercise performance and well being in patients with moderate COPD.