Techniques to promote clearance of sputum from the airways (airway clearance techniques; ACTs) have existed in clinical practice for more than a century. This review examines current evidence and clinical recommendations regarding ACTs for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Comparisons between this literature and reports of current practice suggest that discrepancies may exist in relation to the clinical management of sputum in individuals with COPD. The novel application of newer technologies has enhanced our ability to assess the complex physiological processes underpinning airway clearance therapy. The potential for physiologically tailored ACT prescription may, however, depend on the capacity for translation of such technology from the research setting into the clinical environment. Future directions regarding this common form of therapy will be discussed, including identification of the key research priorities to optimize evidence-based practice in this area.