The purpose of this paper was to describe quality of life (QoL) following an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and to examine possible relationships between QoL, health status, psychological distress and QoL. This prospective longitudinal study examined data from hospitalization and two subsequent phases, collected over a 9-month period. The sample consisted of 51 COPD patients aged 48-87 years. Health status was assessed with the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ); psychological distress with the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL); and quality of life using the World Health Organization Quality of Life - Bref (WHOQOL - Bref). Health status improved significantly over the 9 months; from 65.95 to 59.40 (p = 0.001) in the SGRQ total score. Psychological distress improved significantly from hospitalization to the 1-month assessment (T2) (p = 0.001). QoL remained stable except for a significant increase in the physical domain from hospitalization to T2, and in the environmental domain from hospitalization to T2 and T3. Test-retest correlations of the WHOQOL - Bref were high. The results suggest an improvement in the health status over a 9-month period from being discharged after an exacerbation of COPD in spite of high levels of psychological distress and reduced QoL.