Cadmium exposure was found to cause a decline in lung function among the general population, but these findings were limited to smokers and gender differences were not explored. To examine the relationship between cadmium and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) according to gender and smoking status in Korea. Cross-sectional data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2008 to 2011 were analyzed. COPD was defined by a pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1s divided by forced vital capacity of <0.70. A logistic regression model was used to elucidate the association between blood cadmium levels and COPD according to gender and smoking status. Among 3861 eligible participants, 3622 were included in the analysis. The prevalence of COPD demonstrated an increasing trend in males (P for trend<0.001), but not in females (P for trend=0.67). After adjusting for covariates, a higher blood cadmium level, but within the normal range, was associated with COPD in males, including those who had never-smoked (P for trend <0.001 and P for trend=0.008). However, a higher blood cadmium level was not significantly associated with COPD in females, including those who had never smoked (P for trend=0.39 and P for trend=0.43). A higher blood cadmium level, within the normal range, was associated with COPD in males, including those who had never smoked. However, there was no significant association between blood cadmium levels and COPD in females.