When considering surgical treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a distinction is made between early-stage disease (stages IA/B and IIA/B), locoregionally advanced disease (stages IIIA/B) and metastatic disease (stage IV). Complete surgical resection of NSCLC can provide good long-term outcome. Surgery is considered the treatment of choice in patients with early-stage NSCLC or patients with T3N1 disease. Surgery for locoregionally advanced disease remains controversial. In specific cases of T4 disease, surgery can provide long-term survival. In patients with stage IIIA-N2 disease, surgery is only offered to patients who have achieved mediastinal downstaging following induction therapy. Careful preoperative evaluation is clearly important in the staging and selection of patients with NSCLC for surgery.