Resistance training and transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) are new modalities in rehabilitation of severely disabled patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The purpose of this study was to compare the metabolic response during resistance training and during NMES of the quadriceps femoris muscles in patients with COPD entering pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary function, body composition, peak aerobic capacity, the Medical Research Council dyspnoea grade, the one-repetition maximum strength assessment were evaluated in 13 COPD patients. Additionally, peak oxygen uptake, peak minute ventilation and Borg symptom scores were assessed during a resistance training session and a NMES session. The median peak oxygen uptake and median peak minute ventilation during the resistance training session were significantly higher compared to the NMES session. Additionally, these higher metabolic responses were accompanied by higher symptom Borg scores for dyspnoea and leg fatigue. To conclude, the metabolic response was significantly lower during a NMES session compared to a resistance exercise training session in patients with COPD. Nevertheless, both modalities seem to result in an acceptable metabolic response accompanied by a clinically acceptable sensation of dyspnoea and leg fatigue.