The aim of the study was to gain insight into intensive care nurses’ perspectives on compassionate care for patients with exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients who experience acute exacerbation are vulnerable because they experience a life-threatening situation and are wholly dependent on health-care interventions to relieve breathlessness. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used. Three focus group interviews with intensive-care nurses were conducted at two hospitals in western Norway in the autumn of 2009. One group had five participants, and two groups had six participants each (N=17). A collaborative practice was regarded as essential to provide compassionate care in these situations. Three main themes emerged from the data: (a) preparing to care for breathlessness; (b) establishing a trusting relationship; (c) to approach each patient as a person with unique needs. These were experienced as important in rendering compassionate care for patients with exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The study showed that compassionate care involves interventions at different levels with particular attention to simple comforting care and technical adjustments. The study also showed a need for enhanced multidisciplinary cooperation in planning the subsequent clinical pathway.