PURPOSE Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been used as an effective support to decrease the negative pulmonary effects of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. However, it is unknown whether CPAP can positively influence patients undergoing CABG during exercise. This study evaluated the effectiveness of CPAP on the first day of ambulation after CABG in patients undergoing inpatient cardiac rehabilitation (CR). METHODS Fifty-four patients after CABG surgery were randomly assigned to receive either inpatient CR and CPAP (CPG) or standard CR without CPAP (CG). Cardiac rehabilitation included walking and CPAP pressures were set between 10 to 12 cmH2O. Participants were assessed on the first day of walking at rest and during walking. Outcome measures included breathing pattern variables, exercise time in seconds (ETs), dyspnea/leg effort ratings, and peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2). RESULTS Twenty-seven patients (13 CPG vs 14 CG) completed the study. Compared with walking without noninvasive ventilation assistance, CPAP increased ETs by 43.4 seconds (P = .040) during walking, promoted better thoracoabdominal coordination, increased ventilation during walking by 12.5 L/min (P = .001), increased SpO2 values at the end of walking by 2.6% (P = .016), and reduced dyspnea ratings by 1 point (P = .008). CONCLUSIONS Continuous positive airway pressure can positively influence exercise tolerance, ventilatory function, and breathing pattern in response to a single bout of exercise after CABG.