OBJECTIVES: Vitamin D deficiency is common among persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Whether vitamin D affects the development and deterioration of COPD or is a consequence of the disease lacks clarity. We investigated the association between vitamin D status and prevalent and incident COPD in the general population. METHODS: We included a total of 12,041 individuals from three general population studies conducted in 1993-94, 1999-2001, and 2006-2008, respectively, with vitamin D measurements. Information on COPD was obtained from the Danish National Patient Register and The Danish Registry of Causes of Death. RESULTS: There were 85 prevalent and 463 incident cases of COPD (median follow-up 9.7 years). We found a statistically significant inverse association between vitamin D status and prevalent COPD with odds ratio = 0.89 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.79, 1.0), but no statistically significant association with incident COPD with a hazard ratio = 0.98 (95% CI: 0.94, 1.0), respectively, per 10 nmol/l higher vitamin D status, when adjusted for possible confounders. CONCLUSIONS: We found a statistically significant inverse cross-sectional association between vitamin D status and COPD, but no association between vitamin D status and incident COPD.