The evaluation of therapies requires the development of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) that help clinicians to understanding the symptoms, perceptions and feelings of patients with exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With the aim of obtaining information on the perceptions of patients with COPD, their exacerbations and expectations of treatment, a random telephone contact survey in six countries was performed. From 83,592 households screened, 1100 subjects with symptoms compatible with COPD were identified. The most frequent symptom was shortness of breath (78%). The most frequent complaint was that due to their COPD: "they could not complete the activities they like to do" (54%); 17% (187) of individuals were afraid that their COPD would cripple, or eventually kill them. Exacerbations generated a mean of 5.1 medical visits/year (SD=4.6) with the mean duration of exacerbation symptoms being 10.5 days. Increased coughing was the exacerbation symptom having the strongest impact on well-being (42%). Fifty-five percent of patients declared that quicker symptom relief was the most desired requirement for treatment. New data are provided on the impact of COPD and its exacerbations on the daily life of patients. These data will help to develop PROs designed to evaluate the effectiveness of different therapies for exacerbated COPD.