Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized with the chronic airway inflammation associated with progressive obstruction of airflow. Airway epithelial cells play an essential role of development in COPD. Chemokines as extracellular signaling proteins have been suggested to be involved in the inflammatory process of COPD. The present review summarized the variation of chemokines in the airway epithelium of COPD patients and discussed the potential roles of chemokines in the pathogenesis of COPD. Increased level of IL-8 was considered as a key and unique chemokine in the initiation and progress of COPD. Others like CXCR3 chemokines and eosinophils-related chemokines should be also considered. Further research will be necessary to explore whether targeting on these chemokines, particularly IL-8 and CXCRs, can be benefit to patients with COPD. It is also important to identify and validate a critical and specific chemokine with differential diagnostic value. The correlation of chemokines with disease severity, diagnosis and therapy in COPD should be further clarified. High-throughout technologies, e.g. genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics, can be more attractive approaches to validate the importance of chemokines in the disease. Although the exact role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of COPD still needs to be explored, anti-chemokines or receptor antagonists may be an alterative of new therapies for patients with COPD.