Chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a global public health problem and its impact is increasing. Although only smoking cessation has been shown to alter the natural history of the disease, current treatment guidelines recommend the use of inhaled bronchodilators to decrease symptoms, improve lung function and quality of life and to prevent exacerbations. For a subset of patients with more severe disease, inhaled corticosteroids may also have a role in achieving these goals. Fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (Advair® or Seretide®, GlaxoSmithKline) is a combination inhaled steroid and long-acting bronchodilator that is delivered by a dry-powder inhaler and was recently approved for use in COPD in the US. Fluticasone propionate/salmeterol is a potent bronchodilator and also appears to have important effects on the frequency of exacerbations and overall quality of life for some patients with COPD. Issues of patient selection as well as the pharmacology, efficacy and safety of the drug are discussed. © 2004 Ashley Publications Ltd.