Introduction: Self-management interventions in patients with chronic conditions have received increasing attention over the past few years, yet the meta-analyses encountered considerable heterogeneity in results. This suggests that the effectiveness of self-management interventions must be assessed in the context of which components are responsible for eliciting the effect and in which subgroups of patients the intervention works best. The aim of the present study is to identify condition-transcending determinants of success of self-management interventions in two parallel individual patient data meta-analyses of self-management trials in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Methods and analysis: Investigators of 53 randomised trials (32 in CHF and 21 in COPD) will be requested to share their de-identified individual patient data. Data will be analysed using random effects models, taking clustering within studies into account. Effect modification by age, sex, disease severity, symptom status, comorbid conditions and level of education will be assessed. Sensitivity analyses will be conducted to assess the robustness of the findings. Ethics and dissemination: The de-identified individual patient data are used only for the purpose for which they were originally collected and for which ethical approval has been obtained by the original investigators. Knowledge on the effective ingredients of self-management programmes and identification of subgroups of patients in which those interventions are most effective will guide the development of evidence-based personalised self-management interventions for patients with CHF and COPD as well as with other chronic diseases. Trial registration number: PROSPERO: CRD42013004698.