Pulmonary rehabilitation has been shown to improve exercise capacity in patients with COPD. It has been suggested that this improvement applies to all age groups; however, to our knowledge, the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on older elderly patients (≥75 years of age) have not been studied. We compared changes in 12-min walking distance (12MD) and self-assessment scores in 47 older elderly patients with moderate to severe COPD who completed inpatient or outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation with those achieved by 87 younger patients who participated in the same programs from 1987 to 1992. There were 28 older elderly individuals (mean±SEM, 78±1 years) in the outpatient group and 56 younger patients (64±1 years). There were no differences between older and younger outpatients with respect to FEV1, FEV1/FVC, maximum inspiratory pressure (PImax), baseline 12MD, or baseline self-assessment score. After outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation, 12MD and self-assessment scores improved significantly in both groups. Inpatients included 19 older elderly individuals (81±1 years) who were also similar to the 31 younger inpatients (64±1 years) in FEV1, FEV1/FVC, PImax, and baseline self-assessment score, but they tended to be more limited in terms of baseline 12MD (p=0.09). After inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation, significant improvements in 12MD and self-assessment were seen in both groups. We conclude that comprehensive outpatient and inpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programs are as beneficial in older elderly patients with COPD as they are in younger patients with similar lung function abnormalities. Patients 75 years of age or older should be considered for comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation.