We have previously demonstrated that human diaphragm remodeling elicited by severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by a fast-to-slow myosin heavy chain isoform transformation. To test the hypothesis that COPD-induced diaphragm remodeling also elicits a fast-to-slow isoform shift in the sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase (SERCA), the other major ATPase in skeletal muscle, we obtained intraoperative biopsies of the costal diaphragm from 10 severe COPD patients and 10 control subjects. We then used isoform-specific monoclonal antibodies to characterize diaphragm fibers with respect to the expression of SERCA isoforms. Compared with control diaphragms, COPD diaphragms exhibited a 63% decrease in fibers expressing only fast SERCA (i.e., SERCA1; P < 0.001), a 190% increase in fibers containing both fast and slow SERCA isoforms (P < 0.01), and a 19% increase (P < 0.05) in fibers expressing only the slow SERCA isoform (i.e., SERCA2). Additionally, immunoblot experiments carried out on diaphragm homogenates indicated that COPD diaphragms expressed only one-third the SERCA1 content noted in control diaphragms; in contrast, COPD and control diaphragms did not differ with respect to SERCA2 content. The combination of these histological and immunoblot results is consistent with the hypothesis that diaphragm remodeling elicited by severe COPD is characterized by a fast-to-slow SERCA isoform transformation. Moreover, the combination of these SERCA data and our previously reported myosin heavy chain isoform data (Levine S, Nguyen T, Kaiser LR, Rubinstein NA, Maislin G, Gregory C, Rome LC, Dudley GA, Sieck GC, and Shrager JB. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 168: 706-713, 2003) suggests that diaphragm remodeling elicited by severe COPD should decrease ATP utilization by the diaphragm.