This study examines the mortality trends for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among whites and African Americans in Missouri from 1980-1996. Data from the Missouri Center for Health Information Management and Epidemiology were used to calculate mortality rates. Missouri's COPD deaths rose 40.6% from 1980-1996. Projections through the year 2006 predict continued escalation in rates. Much of the growth in COPD can be attributed to heavy tobacco use in the population.