Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) involving several chromosome 3p regions accompanied by chromosome 3p deletions are detected in almost 100% of small (SCLCs) and more than 90% of non-small (NSCLCs) cell lung cancers. In addition, these changes appear early in the pathogenesis of lung cancer and are found as clonal lesions in the smoking damaged respiratory epithelium including histologically normal epithelium as well as in epithelium showing histologic changes of preneoplasia. These 3p genetic alterations lead to the conclusion that the short arm of human chromosome 3 contains several tumor suppressor gene(s) (TSG(s)). Although the first data suggesting that 3p alterations were involved in lung carcinogenesis were published more than 10 years ago, only recently has significant progress been achieved in identifying the candidate TSGs and beginning to demonstrate their functional role in tumor pathogenesis. Some of the striking results of these findings has been the discovery of multiple 3p TSGs and the importance of tumor acquired promoter DNA methylation as an epigenetic mechanism for inactivating the expression of these genes in lung cancer. This progress, combined with the well known role of smoking as an environmental causative risk factor in lung cancer pathogenesis, is leading to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies which can be translated into the clinic to combat and prevent the lung cancer epidemic. It is clear now that genetic and epigenetic abnormalities of several genes residing in chromosome region 3p are important for the development of lung cancers but it is still obscure how many of them exist and which of the numerous candidate TSGs are the key players in lung cancer pathogenesis. We review herein our current knowledge and describe the most credible candidate genes.