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The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease characterizes COPD as airflow limitation caused by parenchymal destruction and/or small airway disease. This report characterizes the clinical features of these two phenotypes of COPD in Japan.COPD was diagnosed by spirometric airflow limitation (FEV1/FVC < 70%), and all subjects underwent chest CT scanning. Patients with diffuse low attenuation areas (LAA) on CT scan were categorized as the emphysema-dominant phenotype; those with little LAA were categorized as the airway disease-dominant phenotype. The two groups were compared to identify significant clinical or demographic differences.Of the 1438 patients analysed, 1294 (90%) were classified as having an emphysema-dominant phenotype and 144 (10%) as having an airway disease-dominant phenotype. The airway disease-dominant phenotype was: more common than the emphysema-dominant phenotype in women (15%vs. 7%, P < 0.01) and in non-smokers (6%vs. 2%, P < 0.05); was more commonly complicated by asthmatic features (35%vs. 21%, P < 0.01); and had higher IgE and eosinophil levels (P < 0.05) and less lung function impairment.This analysis is the first to clinically define two phenotypes of COPD in a Japanese epidemiological survey. There appear to be striking differences as well as overlap between these two groups. Further research is warranted to determine the significance of COPD phenotypes.