The purpose was to update an original systematic review to determine the effect of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on inspiratory muscle strength and endurance, exercise capacity, dyspnea and quality of life for adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The original MEDLINE and CINAHL search to August 2003 was updated to January 2007 and EMBASE was searched from inception to January 2007. Randomized controlled trials, published in English, with adults with stable COPD, comparing IMT to sham IMT or no intervention, low versus high intensity IMT, and different modes of IMT were included. Nineteen of 274 articles in the original search met the inclusion criteria. The updated search revealed 17 additional articles; 6 met the inclusion criteria, all of which compared targeted, threshold or normocapneic hyperventilation IMT to sham IMT. An update of the sub-group analysis comparing IMT versus sham IMT was performed with 10 studies from original review and 6 from the update. Sixteen meta-analyses are reported. Results demonstrated significant improvements in inspiratory muscle strength (PI(max), PI(max) % predicted, peak inspiratory flow rate), inspiratory muscle endurance (RMET, inspiratory threshold loading, MVV), exercise capacity (Ve(max), Borg Score for Respiratory Effort, 6MWT), Transitional Dyspnea Index (focal score, functional impairment, magnitude of task, magnitude of effort), and the Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (quality of life). Results suggest that targeted, threshold or normocapneic hyperventilation IMT significantly increases inspiratory muscle strength and endurance, improves outcomes of exercise capacity and one measure of quality of life, and decreases dyspnea for adults with stable COPD.