The incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma is increasing. Untreated, patients with this disease experience a rapid and horrendous clinical decline. Surgery plays a role in the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of this malignancy. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy alone have been unable to achieve major improvements in survival for most patients. More recent phase II trials suggest that surgery, at one time a purely palliative approach, may have a potentially curative role when used in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.