There is great interest in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the associated large burden of disease. COPD is characterised by frequent day by day fluctuations, and repetitive clinical exacerbations are typical. Self-management is a term applied to educational programmes aimed at teaching skills needed to carry out medical regimens specific to the disease, guide health behaviour change, and provide emotional support for patients to control their disease and live functional lives. In COPD, the value of self-management education is not yet clear. The first Cochrane review about self-management was published in 2003. It was intended to shed light on the effectiveness of self-management programmes in COPD and the relative efficacy of their constitutive elements. No conclusions about the effectiveness of self-management could be drawn because of the large variation in outcome measures used in the limited number of included studies. This article describes the first update of this review.