Little is known about the long-term persistence of positive effects induced by a physical conditioning programme in cystic fibrosis. Therefore, this study determined the effects of a 6-month conditioning programme on peak oxygen uptake (primary outcome) and other markers of fitness, physical activity, anthropometry, lung function and quality of life (secondary outcomes), 18 and 24 months after the programme was initiated. Patients with cystic fibrosis aged 12-40 yrs were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 23) and a control (n = 15) group. The intervention group consented to add 3 h of sports per week for > or =6 months to their previous activities. Controls were asked to maintain their level of activity for 12 months. Patients were seen at baseline and after 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. There was no significant difference between groups at baseline. The intervention induced positive effects on peak oxygen uptake (difference in changes from baseline to the 18- and 24-month assessments between groups: 3.72+/-1.23 mL.min(-1).kg(-1); p<0.01), maximal workload (0.37+/-0.11 W.kg(-1); p<0.01), vigorous physical activity (1.63+/-0.82 h.week(-1); p<0.05), forced vital capacity (6.06+/-2.87% predicted; p<0.05) and perceived health (9.89+/-4.72; p<0.05). A home-based partially supervised physical conditioning programme can improve physical fitness, lung function and perceived health long after the intervention has ended.