Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disorder of airflow limitation that is not fully reversible, with disabling symptoms including chronic cough and dyspnoea. Although a number of studies in the U.S.A. have assessed the impact of COPD on the healthcare system and society, data on healthcare resource utilization (particularly outpatient services and medication use) in patients with mild to moderate COPD, or patients who meet symptom criteria for COPD but have not received this diagnosis, are limited or unavailable. To fill gaps in current knowledge about the impact of this disease, an economic analysis was conducted on the data collected from patients enrolled in the U.S.A. sample of Confronting COPD in North America and Europe, the first large-scale international survey of the burden of the disease. The annual cost of healthcare resource utilization was estimated at US dollar 4119 per patient with COPD, with indirect (non-medical care) costs amounting to US dollar 1527 per patient. The annual estimated societal cost was therefore US dollar 5646 per patient. The majority of disease costs in the survey were associated with inpatient hospitalizations (US dollar 2891). The results of the survey suggest that interventions that improve COPD outcomes by decreasing symptoms and preventing acute exacerbations could substantially decrease the costs associated with this disease.