The burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on society is increasing. Healthcare systems should support patients with COPD in achieving an optimal quality of life, while limiting the costs of care. As a consequence, a shift from hospital care to home care seems inevitable. Therefore, patients will have to rely to a greater extent on informal caregivers. Patients with COPD as well as their informal caregivers are confronted with multiple limitations in activities of daily living. The presence of an informal caregiver is important to provide practical help and emotional support. However, caregivers can be overprotective, which can make patients more dependent. Informal caregiving may lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, social isolation and a changed relationship with the patient. The caregivers' subjective burden is a major determinant of the impact of caregiving. Therefore, the caregiver's perception of the patient's health is an important factor. This article reviews the current knowledge about these informal caregivers of patients with COPD, the impact of COPD on their lives and their perception of the patient's health status.