Nocturnal respiration rate parameters were collected from 20 COPD subjects over an 8 week period, to determine if changes in respiration rate were associated with exacerbations of COPD. These subjects were primarily GOLD Class 2 to 4, and had been recently discharged from hospital following a recent exacerbation. The respiration rates were collected using a non-contact radio-frequency biomotion sensor which senses respiratory effort and body movement using a short-range radio-frequency sensor. An adaptive notch filter was applied to the measured signal to determine respiratory rate over rolling 15 s segments. The accuracy of the algorithm was initially verified using ten manually-scored 15 min segments of respiration extracted from overnight polysomnograms. The calculated respiration rates were within 1 breath min(-1) for >98% of the estimates. For the 20 subjects monitored, 11 experienced one or more subsequent exacerbation of COPD (ECOPD) events during the 8 week monitoring period (19 events total). Analysis of the data revealed a significant increase in nocturnal respiration rate (e.g. >2 breath min(-1)) prior to many ECOPD events. Using a simple classifier of a change of 1 breath min(-1) in the mode of the nocturnal respiration rate, a predictive rule showed a sensitivity of 63% and specificity of 85% for predicting an exacerbation within a 5 d window. We conclude that it is possible to collect respiration rates reliably in the home environment, and that the respiration rate may be a potential indicator of change in clinical status.