MAGE, BAGE and GAGE genes encode T cell-defined tumor-associated antigens (TAA), which are expressed by various human tumors and are silent in normal tissues. Because of their expression pattern these TAA have received attention as potential targets for active immunotherapy and as molecular tumor markers. Both of these features are potentially useful in improving treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We analyzed the expression of some members of the MAGE, BAGE and GAGE gene families by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in a cohort of 46 NSCLC patients who underwent complete resection and were followed-up for a median period of 41 months. A substantial proportion (range, 25-41%) of NSCLC expressed MAGE-A1, -A2, -A3, GAGE-1, -2, -8 and MAGE-B2 genes. On the contrary, BAGE and MAGE-B1 were expressed less frequently (17% and 11%, respectively). Overall, 59% of NSCLC patients expressed at least one gene and therefore could be eligible for tumor-specific immunotherapy protocols. Moreover, while MAGE-A, BAGE and MAGE-B genes did not provide any prognostic information, GAGE expression was associated with a worse survival (p=0.05). Multivariate analysis confirmed this association, which is independent of TNM stage and other clinicopathologic variables. In conclusion, the detection of GAGE gene expression by RT-PCR appears to be an independent survival predictor in completely resected NSCLC patients.