We assessed the effect of surgery on survival from stage I non-small-cell lung cancer based on data collected in these screening programs. The majority of patients diagnosed in each program were treated by surgical resection, but 5 percent of the Sloan-Kettering group, 21 percent of the Hopkins group and 11 percent of the Mayo group failed to receive surgical treatment. Approximately 70 percent of the stage I patients in each program who were treated surgically survived more than five years, but there were only two five-year survivors among those who did not have surgery. We conclude that patients with lung cancers detected in stage I by chest x-ray film and treated surgically have a good chance of remaining free of disease for many years. Those stage I lung cancers which are not resected progress and lead to death within five years. Therefore, every effort should be made to detect and treat lung cancer early in high-risk populations.