The worldwide prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is growing faster in women than in men. Over the past two decades, COPD-related mortality rates have also grown faster in women, and since the year 2000 more women than men have died from COPD. The greater prevalence of COPD and related mortality reported for men in earlier epidemiological studies may be due to under-diagnosis of women. In addition, factors such as prevalence of symptoms, triggering stimuli, response to treatment, susceptibility to smoking, frequency of exacerbations, impairment in quality of life response to oxygen therapy, presence of malnutrition, airway hyper-responsiveness and depression are more frequently seen in women with COPD. Despite these differences, the current guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of men or women with COPD are the same. It is important for healthcare professionals to recognise the gender differences in patients with COPD to optimise assessment, monitoring and treatment of this disease. This article reviews the clinical differences between men and women with COPD, current treatment guidelines and its implications for improvement in the management of women with COPD.