Background The international experience with resection of advanced thoracic malignancies performed with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support is limited. We examined our results to assess the risks and benefits of this approach. Methods We retrospectively analyzed all patients with thoracic malignancies who underwent tumor resection with ECMO support in our department between 2001 and 2010. Results Nine patients (aged 21 to 71 years; mean, 54.8 ± 7.5 years) underwent complex tracheobronchial resections (n = 6) or resections of greater thoracic vessels (n = 3) under venoarterial (VA) ECMO support. In 7 patients the underlying pathologic condition was non-small cell lung cancer, in 1 patient it was carcinoid tumor, and in 1 patient it was synovial sarcoma. The indication for extracorporeal support was complex tracheobronchial reconstruction (n = 5), resection of the descending aorta (n = 2), and resection of the inferior vena cava (n = 1). ECMO cannulation was central (n = 4), peripheral (n = 4), or combined (n = 1). Mean time on bypass was 110 ± 19 minutes (range 40 to 135 minutes). A complete resection (R0) was achieved in 8 patients (89%). One patient died perioperatively as a result of hepatic necrosis. Eight patients were discharged from the hospital after 7 to 42 days (median, 10 days). Median time in the intensive care unit was 1 day (range, 0 to 36 days). The only complication related to the use of ECMO was a lymphatic fistula in the groin. Mean follow-up time was 38 ± 42 months (range, 9 to 111 months). The actuarial 3-month survival was 88.9%, and the 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year survival was 76.7%. Conclusions Based on this experience, we consider VA ECMO support to be a safe alternative to cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) for advanced general thoracic operations.