Impaired health status may be a risk factor for frequent exacerbations and hospital admission and, in turn, exacerbations and admissions may further impair the health status of patients with COPD. We have investigated the variables associated with frequent exacerbations (3 or more per year) and admission, with particular interest in health status, in a cohort of ambulatory patients with moderate to severe COPD attended by chest physicians in Spain. A total of 227 investigators included 1057 patients with a mean predicted FEV1 of 41.8%. The mean total score on the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) was 47.9 units, and 300 patients (28.4%) had 3 or more exacerbations the previous year and 344 (32.6%) were admitted at least once during the same period. In multivariate analysis only the SGRQ total score was significantly associated with both frequent exacerbations (OR = 1.04; 95% CI = 1.01-2.12; p<0.0001) and admission (OR = 1.01; 95% CI = 1.00-1.02; p = 0.0008). Other variables significantly associated with frequent exacerbations were chronic mucus hypersecretion, increased baseline dyspnea, comorbidity, GOLD stage IV and treatment with inhaled corticosteroids. Variables associated with admission were lower educational level, increased number of exacerbations, use of long-term oxygen therapy and use of short acting beta-2 agonists. An impaired health status is associated with an increased number of exacerbations and with admission to hospital in the previous year. These results, together with previous studies, confirm that impairment in health status in COPD is both a marker of risk for, and a consequence of, frequent exacerbations and admissions.