Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Obesity-Linked Hypoventilation (OLH)--a hypoventilation which is independent of apneas and increased by sleep--, and COPD are mechanisms for respiratory failure in obese patients. We thought nasal bi-level positive airway pressure to be a suitable treatment: EPAP is useful to maintain upper airway patency and IPAP-EPAP difference to correct OLH and COPD hypoventilation. Our purpose is to report the results of such a therapeutic approach. We included 41 patients that we first treated by nasal bi-level positive airway pressure for a respiratory failure with an uncompensated respiratory acidosis. The initial setting was about 4 cm H2O for EPAP and 16 for IPAP. Under supervision of a real-time printed oximetry tracing, we furthermore increased EPAP until disappearance of repetitive dips in oxygen saturation (that we assimilated to obstructive events) and IPAP until obtaining an acceptable level of steady saturation (we assimilated a low level to a steady hypoventilation). Age (mean +/- SD) was 63 +/- 11 years, BMI 42 +/- 9 kg/m2, pH 7.32 +/- 0.04, PaCO2 71 +/- 13 mmHg, PaO2 45 +/- 7 mmHg. Thirty-nine out of 41 patients returned home without need for tracheal intubation. At 7 days of treatment, PaCO2 was 50 +/- 6 mmHg. Thus, nasal bi-level position airway pressure appears to be an efficient treatment in these patients.