background: bronchiectasis is a frequently found disease in medical practice in brazil leading to significant morbidity and decrease in quality of life of the affected individuals. objectives: to study diagnostic and therapeutic aspects in a series of hospitalized patients with bronchiectasis in a department of pulmonary diseases. method: signs, symptoms, microbiological and radiographic data, and therapeutic results were studied in 170 hospitalized patients between 1978 and 2001 - females 62.4%, males 37.6%, and aged from 12 to 88 years (mean age 36.8 yrs). previous history of pneumonia in childhood was detected in 52.5% of the patients, tuberculosis in 19.8%; 8.8% had bronchial asthma, and 2 had kartagener's syndrome. results: the most common symptoms were cough (100.0%), expectoration (96.0%) and pulmonary rales (66.0%). the pulmonary lesions were unilateral in 46.5% of the cases. pneumococcus, h. influenzae or mixed flora were found in 85.0% of the examined sputa. all 170 patients received antibiotics and postural drainage, and 88 of them (younger and with a higher functional reserve) were also submitted to pulmonary resections (82 unilateral and 6 bilateral). two deaths occurred, and repetitive hospitalizations were more frequent among the clinically treated patients. the follow up showed that most of the surgically treated patients had significant symptoms improvement and rarely needed to be re-hospitalized. conclusions: in the majority of the patients, lung resection surgery improved permanently the prolonged bronchopulmonary symptoms of patients with bronchiectasis, differently from the patients who received only clinical treatment.