TWAR, the only known serovar of Chlamydia pneumoniae, is a newly described bacterium that has been identified as a cause of both epidemics and endemic cases of pneumonia. The role of TWAR infection in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not known. We conducted a prospective study to establish whether TWAR infection is a common cause of acute exacerbations of COPD. We studied two groups of patients: 44 patients admitted to the hospital with acute exacerbations of COPD, and 65 stable clinic patients with COPD. We found that evidence of acute TWAR infection was infrequent in patients with exacerbations (5%). In contrast, the majority of patients from both groups had serologic evidence of previous TWAR infection (77%). This was not significantly greater than the prevalence found in a small group of patients of similar age and sex without lung disease from the same institution (73%). TWAR was not isolated from the oropharyngeal specimens obtained from 97 subjects, suggesting that it does not colonize the respiratory tract of patients with COPD. This study shows that at the time of low incidence in the community, acute TWAR infection is uncommon in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD. The majority of patients with COPD have, however, been infected with TWAR in the past. The clinical manifestations of these infections are not known and should be the focus of further studies.