Background: Little is known about the mechanistic basis for the exercise intolerance characteristic of patients with respiratory disease; a lack of clearly defined, distinct patient groups limits interpretation of many studies. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the pulmonary oxygen uptake (V˙: O2) response, and its potential determinants, in patients with emphysema and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Methods: Following a ramp incremental test for the determination of peak V˙: O2 and the gas exchange threshold, six emphysema (66 ± 7 years; FEV1, 36 ± 16%), five IPF (65 ± 12 years; FEV1, 82 ± 11%) and ten healthy control participants (63 ± 6 years) completed three repeat, heavy-intensity exercise transitions on a cycle ergometer. Throughout each transition, pulmonary gas exchange, heart rate and muscle deoxygenation ([HHb], patients only) were assessed continuously and subsequently modelled using a mono-exponential with (V˙: O2, [HHb]) or without (HR) a time delay. Results: The V˙: O2 phase II time-constant ($τ$) did not differ between IPF and emphysema, with both groups significantly slower than healthy controls (Emphysema, 65 ± 11; IPF, 69 ± 7; Control, 31 ± 7 s; P < 0.05). The HR $τ$ was slower in emphysema relative to IPF, with both groups significantly slower than controls (Emphysema, 87 ± 19; IPF, 119 ± 20; Control, 58 ± 11 s; P < 0.05). In contrast, neither the [HHb] $τ$ nor [HHb]:O2 ratio differed between patient groups. Conclusions: The slower V˙: O2 kinetics in emphysema and IPF may reflect poorer matching of O2 delivery-to-utilisation. Our findings extend our understanding of the exercise dysfunction in patients with respiratory disease and may help to inform the development of appropriately targeted rehabilitation strategies.