Purpose The incidence of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) among older adults is expected to increase because of demographic trends and computed tomography-based screening; yet, optimal treatment in the elderly remains controversial. Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare cohort spanning 2001-2007, we compared survival outcomes associated with 5 strategies used in contemporary practice: lobectomy, sublobar resection, conventional radiation therapy, stereotactic ablative radiation therapy (SABR), and observation. Methods and Materials Treatment strategy and covariates were determined in 10,923 patients aged ≥66 years with stage IA-IB NSCLC. Cox regression, adjusted for patient and tumor factors, compared overall and disease-specific survival for the 5 strategies. In a second exploratory analysis, propensity-score matching was used for comparison of SABR with other options. Results The median age was 75 years, and 29% had moderate to severe comorbidities. Treatment distribution was lobectomy (59%), sublobar resection (11.7%), conventional radiation (14.8%), observation (12.6%), and SABR (1.1%). In Cox regression analysis with a median follow-up time of 3.2 years, SABR was associated with the lowest risk of death within 6 months of diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR] 0.48; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.38-0.63; referent is lobectomy). After 6 months, lobectomy was associated with the best overall and disease-specific survival. In the propensity-score matched analysis, survival after SABR was similar to that after lobectomy (HR 0.71; 95% CI 0.45-1.12; referent is SABR). Conventional radiation and observation were associated with poor outcomes in all analyses. Conclusions In this population-based experience, lobectomy was associated with the best long-term outcomes in fit elderly patients with early-stage NSCLC. Exploratory analysis of SABR early adopters suggests efficacy comparable with that of surgery in select populations. Evaluation of these therapies in randomized trials is urgently needed.