We examined the associations between gaseous pollutants and hospitalization for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) among elderly people living in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a city in which ambient air pollution levels are relatively low. We regressed the logarithm of daily counts of acute COPD hospitalization during the 5-year period from 1994 to 1998 on the daily mean levels of each pollutant, after accounting for seasonal and subseasonal fluctuations, non-Poisson dispersion, and weather variables. Nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide were significantly associated with hospitalization for COPD, and the magnitude of effects was increased slightly with increasing days of exposure averaging, with the relative risk for a 7-day average being 1.11 (95%CI: 1.04, 1.20) and 1.08 (1.02, 1.13) for nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, respectively. There was no significant association between either sulfur dioxide or ozone and COPD hospitalization. The combined relative risk for all four gaseous pollutants on COPD hospitalization was 1.21. The effects of gaseous pollutants on COPD hospitalization were not significant after adjustment for PM(10), although its inclusion did not have a marked effect on the point estimates for relative risks. Nitrogen dioxide has a significant impact on COPD hospitalization. Further studies are needed to separate the effects of single pollutants from the combined effects of the complex mixture of air pollutants in urban atmospheres.