The effects of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR), target-flow inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and a combination of both treatments (PR + IMT) on psychological parameters and the physical performance were studied in a group of sixty chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with a ventilatory limitation during exercise (mean age +/- 59, mean FEV1 +/- 50% of predicted). After the ten week training period scores of anxiety and depression were decreased in the PR and the PR + IMT group, but not in the IMT group. In the PR group these scores were still decreased after a one year follow up period. Maximal workload and the activities in daily life (ADL) scores were improved significantly after the training period in the PR and the PR + IMT group. Most of these improvements had disappeared after one year. The 12 min walking distance was increased in all patient groups after the training period and was still increased after the follow up period. The exercise capacity was correlated significantly to lung function parameters. The psychological well-being, however, was not correlated with lung function parameters, but was closely related to ADL scores. The improvement of the psychological parameters was not correlated to the improvement of the exercise capacity after the training period or after one year. The results indicate that the psychological well-being and the physical condition are improved by different mechanisms during a pulmonary rehabilitation programme.