By instructing patients in how to deal with their disease financial demands on health services may be reduced. 100 consecutive patients (aged 48 to 89) admitted to a general medical ward in Denmark with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were allocated randomly to receive either "personalized hospital practice" (PHP), which includes training in aspects of their disease, or standard hospital practice. Changes in "consumption" of health services per patient from 1 year before until 1 year after the intervention admission were evaluated in 82 (PHP group 42, controls 40) patients who completed the intervention phase. Each group contained about the same percentage of asthmatics and smokers. The increase in consumption of health services after intervention was on average Kr15,298 per patient per year less in the PHP group than in the control group (p = 0.048, Wilcoxon test). Consumption of general practitioner services was significantly increased in the control group compared with the PHP group (mean [95% Cl] Kr1346 [549 to 2143] vs -89 [-423 to 245] per patient per year; p = 0.001, Wilcoxon test). These differences could not be explained by changes in smoking habits. PHP reduces the consumption of health services by patients with COPD, probably by increasing patients' knowledge of disease and hence their ability to manage themselves.