Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common cause of premature death from malignant disease in western countries. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying NSCLC etiology, pathogenesis, and therapeutics will lead to improved clinical outcomes. Recent technological advances in gene expression profiling (in particular, with cDNA and oligonucleotide microarrays) allow the simultaneous analysis of the expression of thousands of genes. In this review, the technology of global gene expression profiling is discussed, and the progress made thus far with it in NSCLC is reviewed. A new molecular classification of NSCLC has been developed, which has provided important insights into etiology and pathogenesis. Other studies have found potential biomarkers for NSCLC that may be of use in diagnosis, screening, and assessing the effectiveness of therapy. Finally, advances have been made in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of NSCLC progression and the molecular mechanisms of action of currently used cytotoxic drugs. This may facilitate the improvement of current therapeutics and the identification of novel targets. Taken together, these advances hold the promise of an improved understanding of the molecular biology of NSCLC and its treatment, which in turn will lead to improved outcomes for this deadly disease.