Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) represents a major and progressive cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, resulting in an important financial and health burden in coming decades. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has been proven to be the most effective treatment in all patients in whom respiratory symptoms are associated with diminished functional capacity or reduced quality of life. Nevertheless, despite wide recommendation and proven efficacy, the use of PR is limited in daily practice. Reasons for these include low accessibility and availability, high costs, and lack of motivation to continue a healthy life style after treatment. By contrast, it has been demonstrated that primary care patients can be reactivated by formulating personal targets and designing individualized treatment plans in collaboration with their general practitioner or practice nurse. Based on these personal plans and targets, specific education must be provided and development of self management skills should be actively encouraged. Ideally, elements of pulmonary rehabilitation are tailored into a comprehensive primary care integrated disease management program. In that way, the benefits of PR can be extended to a substantially larger part of the COPD population, to reach even those with milder stages of disease. Favorable long-term effects on exercise tolerance and quality of life in a number of studies have been demonstrated in recent years, but broad introduction in the primary care setting still needs further justification in the form of a proper cost effectiveness analysis.