The majority of patients with stage T3, N1, M0 or T1-3, N2, M0 non-small cell lung cancer are considered inoperable, and receive radical radiotherapy. This randomised trial aimed to assess whether, in this group of inoperable patients, a policy of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (with mitomycin, ifosfamide and cisplatin (MIC) or mitomycin, vinblastine and cisplatin (MVP)) followed, if feasible, by surgery (CT-S), would result in better outcomes than radical radiotherapy (RT). The trial closed due to poor accrual, with only 48 patients randomised in 3 years. Only 4 of the 24 patients in the CT-S group had a complete resection, and of these, the 2 patients who had a pneumonectomy both died 12 days after surgery. There was no evidence of an improved survival in the CT-S group (median survival 13.8 months, compared with 11.3 months for the RT group), but because the trial failed to recruit we were unable to reach any reliable conclusions about these two treatment options.