The global prevalence of physiologically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adults aged >40 yr is approximately 9-10 per cent. Recently, the Indian Study on Epidemiology of Asthma, Respiratory Symptoms and Chronic Bronchitis in Adults had shown that the overall prevalence of chronic bronchitis in adults >35 yr is 3.49 per cent. The development of COPD is multifactorial and the risk factors of COPD include genetic and environmental factors. Pathological changes in COPD are observed in central airways, small airways and alveolar space. The proposed pathogenesis of COPD includes proteinase-antiproteinase hypothesis, immunological mechanisms, oxidant-antioxidant balance, systemic inflammation, apoptosis and ineffective repair. Airflow limitation in COPD is defined as a postbronchodilator FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 sec) to FVC (forced vital capacity) ratio <0.70. COPD is characterized by an accelerated decline in FEV1. Co morbidities associated with COPD are cardiovascular disorders (coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure), hypertension, metabolic diseases (diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and obesity), bone disease (osteoporosis and osteopenia), stroke, lung cancer, cachexia, skeletal muscle weakness, anaemia, depression and cognitive decline. The assessment of COPD is required to determine the severity of the disease, its impact on the health status and the risk of future events (e.g., exacerbations, hospital admissions or death) and this is essential to guide therapy. COPD is treated with inhaled bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, oral theophylline and oral phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor. Non pharmacological treatment of COPD includes smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation and nutritional support. Lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplantation are advised in selected severe patients. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management and prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease guidelines recommend influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.