Objective: This study explored the ability of microRNA-135a (miR-135a) to influence cell proliferation, migration, invasion, apoptosis and tumor angiogenesis through the IGF-1/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods: NSCLC tissues and adjacent normal tissues were collected from 138 NSCLC patients. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to detect the expression levels of miR-135a and IGF-1, PI3K, Akt, VEGF, bFGF and IL-8 mRNA; western blotting was used to determine the expression levels of IGF-1, PI3K and Akt protein; and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to analyze the expression levels of VEGF, bFGF and IL-8 protein. Human NSCLC cell lines (A549, H460, and H1299) and the human bronchial epithelial cell line (HBE) were selected. A549 cells were assigned to blank, negative control (NC), miR-135a mimics, miR-135a inhibitors, IGF-1 siRNA and miR-135a inhibitors + IGF-1 siRNA groups. The following were performed: an MTT assay to assess cell proliferation, a scratch test to detect cell migration, a Transwell assay to measure cell invasion, and a flow cytometry to analyze cell apoptosis. Results: The expression level of miR-135a was lower while those of IGF-1, PI3K and Akt mRNA were higher in NSCLC tissues than in the adjacent normal tissues. Dual-luciferase reporter assay indicated IGF-1 as a target of miR-135a. The in vitro results showed that compared with the blank group, cell proliferation, migration and invasion were suppressed, mRNA and protein levels of IGF-1, PI3K, Akt, VEGF, bFGF and IL-8 were reduced, and cell apoptosis was enhanced in the miR-135a mimics and IGF-1 siRNA groups. Compared with the IGF-1 siRNA group, cells in the miR-135a inhibitors + IGF-1 siRNA group demonstrated increased cell proliferation, migration and invasion, elevated mRNA and protein levels of IGF-1, PI3K, Akt, VEGF, bFGF and IL-8 and reduced cell apoptosis. Conclusion: These findings indicated that miR-135a promotes cell apoptosis and inhibits cell proliferation, migration, invasion and tumor angiogenesis by targeting IGF-1 gene through the IGF-1/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in NSCLC.