The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two post-rehabilitation programmes on functional exercise tolerance and health-related quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Subjects with COPD (n=109) were randomised to receive either enhanced follow-up (EF) or conventional follow-up (CF). Subjects in the EF group attended a monthly support group and received a telephone call from a staff member at the midpoint (2 weeks) between their visits. Both groups had scheduled appointments with a physical therapist and physician at 3-monthly intervals after discharge. Longitudinal data were recorded in 85 subjects (37 EF and 48 CF). Over the course of the study, there was no difference in distance walked in 6 min between the two groups but a significant difference for time and a group-time interaction. There was no difference in total chronic respiratory disease questionnaire score between groups at baseline or at any time interval despite a significant difference with time. There was a clear deterioration in functional exercise capacity and health-related quality of life after completion of respiratory rehabilitation but no difference between the groups.