Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Environmental exposure, primarily cigarette smoking, can cause high oxidative stress and is the main factor of COPD development. Cigarette smoke also contributes to the imbalance of oxidant/antioxidant due to exogenous reactive oxygen species (ROS). Moreover, endogenously released ROS during the inflammatory process and mitochondrial dysfunction may contribute to this disease progression. ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) can oxidize different biomolecules such as DNA, proteins, and lipids leading to epithelial cell injury and death. Various detoxifying enzymes and antioxidant defense systems can be involved in ROS removal. In this review, we summarize the main findings regarding the biological role of ROS, which may contribute to COPD development, and cytoprotective mechanisms against this disease progression.