Chest physiotherapy is an essential part of the management of cystic fibrosis, yet comparatively few studies have investigated the commonly used forms of chest physiotherapy during acute respiratory exacerbations. Fifteen subjects with cystic fibrosis and predominantly mild pulmonary impairment completed a randomised cross-over trial with 24 hours between treatments. The active cycle of breathing techniques (ACBT) assisted by a physiotherapist was compared with the ACBT performed independently by the patient. Measurement outcomes included pulmonary function tests, indirect calorimetry and oximetry parameters. Energy expenditure was not significantly different between the two treatment regimens, though significant improvements in pulmonary function were apparent 24 hours following the therapist-assisted ACBT. In this group of subjects, neither form of treatment proved superior in terms of energy consumption, but a reduction in airways obstruction was observed as a carry-over effect following the therapist-assisted ACBT.