Pulmonary rehabilitation is a set of tools and disciplines that attends to the multiple needs of the COPD patient. It extends beyond standard care by addressing the disabling features of chronic and progressive lung disease. It centers on self-management, exercise, functional training, psychosocial skills, and contributes to the optimization of medical management. Exercise enables other components by building strength, endurance, confidence, and reducing dyspnea. Patients who have undergone rehabilitation often enjoy a reduced need for health-care utilization. On the downside, rehabilitation is a one-time intervention, the benefits of which dissolve over time. The patient's physician is rarely a participant in the program; thus, the physician is at a disadvantage in being able to support a long-term response. Rehabilitation is available to a small percentage of a large patient population who could benefit. Optimal disease management would entail redesigning standard medical care to integrate rehabilitative elements into a system of patient self-management and regular exercise. It should emphasize physician involvement in self-management, which is essential in developing and maintaining an effective exacerbation protocol. Pulmonary rehabilitation should take its place in the mainstream of disease management through its integrative and reconciliative role in the multidisciplinary continuum of services, as defined by the National Institutes of Health, Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research, Workshop of 1994.