The aim was to study the overall content and organisational aspects of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes from a global perspective in order to get an initial appraisal on the degree of heterogeneity worldwide. A 12-question survey on content and organisational aspects was completed by representatives of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes that had previously participated in the European Respiratory Society (ERS) COPD Audit. Moreover, all ERS members affiliated with the ERS Rehabilitation and Chronic Care and/or Physiotherapists Scientific Groups, all members of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and all American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Assembly members were asked to complete the survey via multiple e-mailings. The survey has been completed by representatives of 430 centres from 40 countries. The findings demonstrate large differences among pulmonary rehabilitation programmes across continents for all aspects that were surveyed, including the setting, the case mix of individuals with a chronic respiratory disease, composition of the pulmonary rehabilitation team, completion rates, methods of referral and types of reimbursement. The current findings stress the importance of future development of processes and performance metrics to monitor pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, to be able to start international benchmarking, and to provide recommendations for international standards based on evidence and best practice.