These guidelines are intended to give evidence-based recommendations for the use of enteral nutrition (EN) in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They were developed by an interdisciplinary expert group in accordance with officially accepted standards and are based on all relevant publications since 1985. They have been discussed and accepted in a consensus conference. EN by means of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) or tube feeding (TF) enables nutritional intake to be maintained or increased when normal oral intake is inadequate. No data are yet available concerning the effects of EN on cachexia in CHF patients. However, EN is recommended to stop or reverse weight loss on the basis of physiological plausibility. In COPD patients, EN in combination with exercise and anabolic pharmacotherapy has the potential to improve nutritional status and function. Frequent small amounts of ONS are preferred in order to avoid postprandial dyspnoea and satiety as well as to improve compliance.