Disagreement exists between different COPD guidelines considering classification of severity of the disease. The aim of our study was to determine whether there is any correlation between severity scales of various COPD guidelines (ATS, BTS, ERS and GOLD) and the frequency of hospitalisations for COPD exacerbation. A cohort of 67 COPD patients (65 male 2 female, 45 ex-smokers, 22 current smokers, aged (69.4 +/- 1.1)) was recruited from those admitted in the pulmonary clinic of the University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete for an acute exacerbation. Lung function tests and arterial blood gases analyses were performed during stable conditions at a scheduled visit 2 months after discharge. The patients were stratified using the FEV1 percent-predicted measurement of this visit into mild, moderate and severe in accordance to the ATS, BTS, ERS and GOLD scales of severity. The number of hospitalisations for acute exacerbation was recorded for the following 18 months. A total of 165 exacerbations were recorded. The correlation between the severity of COPD and the number of hospitalisations per year was statistically significant using the GOLD classification system of severity (P = 0.02 and r = 0.294). A weak correlation was also found between the number of hospitalisations and the ERS classification system (P = 0.05 and r = 0.24). No statistically significant correlation was found between the number of hospitalisations and the ATS or BTS severity scales. In conclusion the GOLD and ERS classification systems of severity of COPD correlated to exacerbations causing hospitalisation. The same was not true for the ATS and BTS severity scales. Better correlation was achieved with the GOLD scale.