A system of transtracheal oxygen administration has been developed which is more effective for rehabilitating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients than traditional systems for providing continuous oxygen therapy. The procedure involves administering oxygen continuously through a No. 16 intravenous catheter inserted transtracheally. Therapeutic PaO2 levels are attained with an oxygen flow of 0.25 to 1 liter per minute. Transtracheal oxygen administration has numerous advantages over nasal cannula or Venturi mask devices. With this system, the patient requires 3 to 4 times less oxygen; therefore, a 2.7-kg (6-lb) portable tank will last most of one day. Oxygen-enriched air via transtracheal catheter reaches the lungs directly with less respiratory effort. Delivery of oxygen is not impaired by sinusitis, mouth-breathing, displacement of nasal cannula or loss of oxygen into the room. Patients experience an immediate sensation of being able to breathe more easily, begin ambulating the day of the procedure, have improved nutrition and return to many normal activities.