Background The coexistence of emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis is known as combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE). The aim of this study was to compare diaphragmatic motion measured by M-mode ultrasonography of patients with CPFE, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Methods Pulmonary function, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), and diaphragmatic motion were examined in patients with CPFE (n = 25), IPF (n = 18), and COPD (n = 60), and in healthy controls (n = 21). Diaphragmatic motions were measured on M-mode ultrasonographic images during quiet breathing and deep breathing. Results There were no significant differences in right or left diaphragmatic motion during quiet breathing among the four groups, whereas differences were significant in right and left motion during deep breathing. Diaphragmatic motion in CPFE patients was the lowest among the four groups. COPD patients, especially those with severe COPD, showed significantly lower diaphragmatic motion than IPF patients or healthy controls. There were no differences in diaphragmatic motion between IPF patients and healthy controls. Right diaphragmatic motions during deep breathing were negatively correlated with emphysema scores (r = -0.606, p Conclusions Diaphragmatic weakness was found in CPFE patients. Emphysema but not fibrosis may be one cause of limited diaphragmatic motion in patients with CPFE. M-mode ultrasonographic evaluation of diaphragmatic motion during deep breathing may be a useful tool in diagnosing CPFE and in discriminating CPFE patients from IPF or COPD patients.