Data from the present study indicate a change in the pattern of chest wall muscle recruitment and improved ventilation with pursed-lip breathing (PLB) in COPD. Pursed lip breathing led to increased rib cage and accessory muscle recruitment during inspiration and expiration, increased abdominal muscle recruitment during expiration, decreased duty cycle of the inspiratory muscles and respiratory rate, and improved SaO2. In addition, PLB resulted in no change in pressure across the diaphragm and a less fatiguing breathing pattern of the diaphragm. Changes in chest wall muscle recruitment and respiratory temporal parameters concomitant with the increased SaO2 indicate a mechanism of improving ventilation with PLB while protecting the diaphragm from fatigue in COPD. Alterations in the pattern of respiratory muscle recruitment with PLB may be associated also with the amelioration of dyspnea. Further investigation is necessary to explore the relationship between the pattern of respiratory muscle recruitment during PLB and dyspnea.