The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects on activities of daily living, quality of life, and exercise tolerance of a comprehensive out-patient rehabilitation programme for patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In this randomized and controlled trial, the main outcome measures were Activities of Daily Living (ADL) score, York Quality of Life Questionnaire (YQLQ) score, Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRDQ) score, 6 min walking distance (6MWD), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and forced vital capacity (FVC). The rehabilitation programme included physical training, occupational therapy, education, and smoking cessation therapy, and lasted for 12 weeks. The patients were evaluated at entry, halfway through, and at the end of the programme. Follow-up was at 24 weeks. Forty seven patients were recruited, and 16 in each group completed the trial. There were significant differences in the improvements in ADL and CRDQ between the control and the treatment groups at 12 and 24 weeks, and at 24 weeks, respectively. At 6, 12 and 24 weeks, improvements in the 6MWD were 21.6 versus 79.8, 36.1 versus 113.1 and 21.4 versus 96.2 for control and treatment groups, respectively (p<0.004). A correlation matrix showed only ADL and 6MWD to be significantly correlated; the matrix was also used to validate the translated questionnaires. The programme required 124 staff-hours in total. An inexpensive, comprehensive out-patient rehabilitation programme can produce long-term improvement in activities of daily living, quality of life, and exercise tolerance in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.