Inhaled and systemic corticosteroids are commonly prescribed for the treatment of COPD. Despite their frequent use, there is insufficient evidence regarding efficacy of steroid therapy in COPD. While awaiting the results of more definitive prospective trials, the clinician must evaluate whether the benefits of such therapy outweigh the potential for adverse events. This is particularly pertinent in the population of patients with COPD who generally are older, less active, and have significant tobacco use histories, all of which may place them at greater risk for adverse effects. In this review, we examine the current scientific evidence supporting the many purported adverse systemic effects associated with the use of corticosteroids in the treatment of COPD.