The emerging recognition that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex disorder, characterized not only by local pulmonary inflammation, but also by systemic inflammation that might have an adverse impact on various extrapulmonary organs, such as the blood vessels and the heart, among others, emphasizes the need for new and more effective forms of therapy for this debilitating disorder. Fortunately, many of the 'standard' therapeutic options used to treat COPD have the potential to influence systemic inflammation. Moreover, several new therapeutic strategies aimed at controlling the underlying inflammatory processes of COPD more specifically are under development. Unfortunately, we still do not know whether treatment of lung inflammation decreases, for example, the risk of acute cardiac events, progression of atherosclerosis or thrombotic events. It is also unclear whether, alternatively, treatment of heart disease can affect the progression of lung disease. Nonetheless, initial data seem to indicate that drugs, such as statins, ACE inhibitors, AT1 receptor blockers and PPAR agonists, used to treat a co-morbid condition have the potential to benefit COPD patients.