The COPD Genetic Epidemiology (COPDGene®) study provides a rich cross-sectional dataset of patients with substantial tobacco smoke exposure, varied by race, gender, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis, and disease. We aimed to determine the influence of race, gender and Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) stage on prevalence of prior COPD diagnosis at COPDGene® enrollment. Data from the complete phase 1 cohort of 10,192 participants were analyzed. Participants were non-Hispanic white and African-American, ≥45 years of age with a minimum of 10 pack years of cigarette smoking. Characterization upon enrollment included spirometry, demographics and history of COPD diagnosis determined by questionnaire. We evaluated the effects of race and gender on the likelihood of prior diagnosis of COPD and the interaction of race and GOLD stage, and gender and GOLD stage, as determined at study enrollment, on likelihood of prior diagnosis of COPD. We evaluated the 3-way interaction of race, gender and GOLD stage on prior diagnosis. African-Americans had higher odds of not having a prior COPD diagnosis at all GOLD stages of airflow obstruction versus non-Hispanic whites (p < 0.0001). Women had higher odds of having a prior COPD diagnosis at all GOLD stages versus men (p < 0.0001). Three-way interaction of race, gender and GOLD stage was not significant. African-Americans were less likely to have prior COPD regardless of the severity of airflow obstruction determined at study enrollment. Women were more likely to have a prior COPD diagnosis regardless of the severity of measured airflow obstruction. Race and gender are associated with significant disparities in COPD diagnosis.