Recent years have seen the emergence of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) as an important tool for management of patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Several well conducted studies in the recent years have established its role in the initial, as well as later management of these patients. However, some grey areas remain. Moreover, data is emerging on the role of long term nocturnal NIV use in patients with very severe stable COPD. This review summarizes the evidence supporting the use of NIV in various stages of COPD, discuss the merits as well as demerits of this novel ventilatory strategy and highlight the grey areas in the current body of knowledge.