Background: Treatment of COPD requires multiple pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention strategies. One target is physical inactivity because it leads to disability and contributes to poor physical and mental health. Unfortunately, less than 1% of eligible patients have access to gold-standard pulmonary rehabilitation. Methods: A single-site parallel group randomized trial was designed to determine if a self-management lifestyle physical activity intervention would improve physical functioning and dyspnea. During the first six weeks after enrollment patients receive COPD self-management education delivered by a health coach using a workbook and weekly telephone calls. Patients are then randomized to usual care or the physical activity intervention. The 20. week physical activity intervention is delivered by the health coach using a workbook supported by alternating one-on-one telephone counseling and computer assisted telephone calls. Theoretical foundations include social cognitive theory and the transtheoretical model. Results: Primary outcomes include change in Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ) dyspnea domain and 6-minute walk distance measured at 6-, 12-, and 18-months after randomization. Secondary outcomes include other CRQ domains (fatigue, emotion, and mastery), SF-12, and health care utilization. Other measures include process outcomes and clinical characteristics. Conclusions: This theory driven self-management lifestyle physical activity intervention is designed to reach patients unable to complete center-based pulmonary rehabilitation. Results will advance knowledge and methods for dissemination of a potentially cost-effective program for patients with COPD. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.