BACKGROUND AND AIM: The general practitioner (GP) is the first contact with the health care system for most patients with COPD in Denmark. We studied, if participating in an educational program could improve adherence to guidelines, not least for diagnosis, staging, and treatment of the disease. DESIGN AND SETTING: Two cross-sectional surveys were performed precisely one year apart before and after an educational program for the participating GPs. A total of 124 GPs completed the study; 1716 and 1342 patients with GP-diagnosed COPD and no concomitant asthma, respectively, were included in the two surveys. RESULTS: The proportion of patients having FEV(1) registered in the GPs files increased from 45% to 69% (P 80%pred) declined from 76% to 45%. CONCLUSION: Diagnosis and management of COPD in general practice in Denmark is not according to guidelines, but substantial improvements can be achieved by focused education of GPs and their staff.