Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease represents a major cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized and nonindustrialized countries. Although tobacco use remains the main factor associated with development of the disease, occupational risk factors represent an important and preventable cause. The most common occupationally related factors include exposure to organic dusts, metallic fumes, and a variety of other mineral gases and/or vapors. This article summarizes the literature on the subject and provides an update of the most recent advances in the field. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.