The prevalence of chronic bronchitis is between 3% and 17% in most developed countries. However, higher rates in the range of 13 to 27% are encountered in less developed areas of the world. Acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis (AECB) have usually been defined as the presence of increases in cough/sputum, sputum purulence, and dyspnea. However, recent investigations suggest that the severity of AECB may be divided into three stages based on the history of the patient: (1) previously healthy individuals; (2) patients with chronic cough and sputum and infrequent exacerbations; and (3) persons with frequent exacerbations or more severe chronic airflow limitation. Therapy for patients with less severe AECB include older and less expensive broad-spectrum antibiotics, while newer agents are indicated for patients with the most severe stage of AECB.