Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterized by progressive and partially reversible airway obstruction. The innumerable complications that occur during the progression of the disease can affect the nutritional state of patients suffering from this illness. The objective of this study was to present a brief review of the literature regarding the nutrition therapy used in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To that end, we performed a bibliographic search for related articles published within the last 18 years and indexed for the Literatura Latinoamericana y del Caribe en Ciencias de la Salud (LILACS, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature) and Medline databases. Malnutrition is associated with a poor prognosis for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, since it predisposes such patients to infections, as well as reducing respiratory muscle force, exercise tolerance and quality of life. Despite the fact that such malnutrition is extremely common in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, it should be recognized as an independent risk factor, since it can be modified through appropriate and efficacious diet therapy and monitoring. For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nutrition therapy is initiated after the evaluation of the nutritional state of the patient, which identifies nutritional risk, thereby allowing the proper level of treatment to be established. In this evaluation, anthropometric and biochemical markers, as well as indicators of dietary consumption and body composition, should be used. The prescribed diet should contain appropriate proportions of macronutrients, micronutrients and immunonutrients in order to regain or maintain the proper nutritional state and to avoid complications. The physical characteristics of the diet should be tailored to the individual needs and tolerances of each patient. In the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, individualized nutrition therapy is extremely important and has been shown to be fundamental to improving quality of life.