© 2016 Brown et al. Background: Despite known benefits, a significant proportion of patients with COPD do not complete pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Little is known regarding which factors promote successful completion of PR. Methods: We analyzed data from a prospectively maintained database of subjects with COPD who attended a PR program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, from 1996 to 2013. Subjects were categorized as either completers or non-completers, based on successful completion of at least 8 weeks of PR. Demographics and comorbidities were recorded. Short Form 36 Health Survey, Beck Depression Inventory-II, and San Diego Shortness of Breath Questionnaire were administered to all participants at baseline and on completion of PR to assess participants’ perception of their health status, severity of depression, and dyspnea with performance of activities of daily living. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed to identify predictors of successful completion of PR. Results: Four hundred and forty subjects were included, of whom 229 completed PR. Forty-one percent were female, and 17% were African American. Compared with non-completers, completers had greater Short Form 36 Health Survey pain score, lower forced expiratory volume in the first second, and lower Beck Depression Inventory score, and included a lower percentage of current smokers. On multivariate analysis, cigarette smoking at enrollment was associated with lower likelihood of completion of PR (adjusted odds ratio 0.38, 95% confidence interval 0.16–0.90; P=0.02). Conclusion: Cigarette smoking was the sole independent predictor of PR dropout, and smoking cessation may warrant greater emphasis prior to enrollment.