The effects of training on dynamic hyperinflation in stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were investigated by using a controlled study of 28 subjects with FEV(1) = 42.5 (8.3 SD)%pred and 20 matched controls [FEV(1) = 44.9 (10.4)%pred]. Training consisted of spending 45 min/day, 4 days/week on a cycle-ergometer for six weeks. Maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressures (MIP and MEP), lung volumes, and two constant-work-rate (CWR) exercise tests (low- and high-intensity) were performed. Significant (p < 0.0l) improvements in the training group were observed in MIP [+8 (12) cmH(2)O], MEP [+18 (20) cmH(2)O], and endurance to high-intensity CWR [+7(5) min], and there were significant decreases in respiratory rate and end-expiratory lung volume (EELV) during both exercise tests. At 5 min, EELV decreased 0.1(0.08) L and 0.31(0.13) L and at end of exercise, EELV decreased by 0.09(0.07) L and 0.15(0.11) L respectively, for the moderate- and high-intensity tests. Dyspnea also decreased significantly at both exercise intensities. No changes were observed in the control group. Increased endurance showed independent significant (p < 0.05) correlation with changes in EELV, leg fatigue, and MEP. EELV changes showed a significant negative correlation with resting inspiratory capacity. We conclude that exercise training has beneficial effects on respiratory pattern and dynamic hyperinflation that may partially explain the reduction in dyspnea and the improvement in exercise tolerance.