It is recommended that screening for COPD be restricted to symptomatic individuals, but supporting evidence is lacking. We determined the performance of wheeze, cough, phlegm, and dyspnea in discriminating COPD versus non-COPD in a population-based sample of 1332 adults. Area Under the Receiver Operating Curves (AUC) indicated that symptoms had modest performance whether assessed individually (AUCs 0.55-0.62), or in combination (AUC for number of symptoms as the predictor 0.64). AUC improved with the inclusion of multiple other factors (AUC 0.71). Restricting screening to symptomatic individuals is unlikely to substantially improve the yield of general population screening for undiagnosed COPD.