The protein-kinase family is the most frequently mutated gene family found in human cancer. Gefitinib, an ATP-competitive inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), also appears to be particularly effective in adenocarcinoma of the lung and in patients without smoking history. To determine whether lung tumors sensitive to gefitinib contained mutations within the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of EGFR, we screened exons 18-23 of EGFR of tumors in 20 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had been treated with gefitinib. Nine (45%) tumors had TK domain mutations. All mutations were observed in adenocarcinoma. Seven (77.8%) of 9 cases with mutated types showed sensitivity to gefitinib, while no cases of 11 with wild type showed gefitinib sensitivity. Such mutations were more frequently observed in patients who had never smoked (5/8 or 62.5%) than in smokers (4/12 or 33.3%). The patients with mutations of EGFR to have a more favorable prognosis than those with wild type (p=0.033). These data show that adenocarcinomas from patients who had never smoked comprise a specific subset of patients with NSCLC sensitive to gefitinib treatment.