The 1-min sit-to-stand (1-min STS) test and handgrip strength test have been proposed as simple tests of functional exercise performance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. We assessed the long-term (5-year) predictive performance of the 1-min sit-to-stand and handgrip strength tests for mortality, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and exacerbations in COPD patients. In 409 primary care patients, we found the 1-min STS test to be strongly associated with long-term morality (hazard ratio per 3 more repetitions: 0.81, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.86) and moderately associated with long-term HRQoL. Neither test was associated with exacerbations. Our results suggest that the 1-min STS test may be useful for assessing the health status and long-term prognosis of COPD patients. This study was registered at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ (NCT00706602, 25 June 2008).