In the United States, lung cancer kills more men and woman than the next three most common cancers combined. Unfortunately, the long-term outcome of lung cancer is still dismal with a 5-year survival rate of 15%. However, significant improvements in median survival times and 1-year and 2-year survival rates have been achieved in the last decade. This progress has been accomplished not only because of better surgical techniques but also because of the use of platinum-based regimens with newer chemotherapy agents and, more recently, targeted therapy. The role of chemotherapy as an integral part of the treatment of lung cancer has expanded significantly, particularly in the last few years with the proven benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy. For advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), chemotherapy prolongs survival and improves quality of life in patients with good performance status, and appears to provide symptomatic improvement in patients with decreased performance status. Platinum-based doublet chemotherapy regimens are now the standard of care in patients with advanced stage NSCLC, and non-platinum-based combination therapies are reasonable alternatives in certain populations. The combination of the vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor bevacizumab and chemotherapy has proven to prolong survival. As agents such as monoclonal antibodies, small molecules inhibitors of tyrosine kinase, and direct inhibitors of proteins involved in lung cancer proliferation are being developed and tested, we are optimistic that these agents will result in improvement in the survival and quality of life of lung cancer patients.