Exacerbations have significant impact on the morbidity and mortality of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Most guidelines emphasise prevention of exacerbations by treatment with long-acting bronchodilators and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. Whereas most of this treatment is evidence-based, it is clear that patients differ regarding the nature of exacerbations and are likely to benefit differently from different types of treatment. In this short review, we wish to highlight this, suggest a first step in differentiating pharmacological exacerbation prevention and call for more studies in this area. Finally, we wish to highlight that there are perhaps easier ways of achieving similar success in exacerbation prevention using nonpharmacological tools.