Two hundred three patients with hypoxemic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 73 healthy control subjects matched for age, sex, race, and neighborhood of residence were administered three self-report inventories concerned with the following four dimensions of life quality: emotional functioning, social-role functioning, activities of daily living, and recreational pastimes. An additional inventory was administered to a spouse or another close relative of each patient. The life quality of patients with COPD was found to be impaired relative to healthy subjects on all dimensions. Depression was the preponderant emotional disturbance reported; difficulties with home management and reduction in social interaction were the primary social-role deficits. Ambulation, mobility, sleep and rest, and a variety of recreational pastimes were also severely affected. Life quality exhibited moderate but significant relationships to neuropsychological, pulmonary, and cardiac functioning and to exercise capability. Age and socioeconomic status were found to be possible moderators of the relationship of COPD to life quality. A model to integrate these findings is proposed. Implications for the management of COPD and for the evaluation of medical treatments of chronic disabling conditions are described.