This study aimed to evaluate whether patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer experience disrupted rest-activity daily rhythms, poor sleep quality, weakness, and maintain attributes that are linked to circadian function such as fatigue. This report describes the rest-activity patterns of 33 non-small-cell lung cancer patients who participated in a randomised clinical trial evaluating the benefits of melatonin. Data are reported on circadian function, health-related quality of life (QoL), subjective sleep quality, and anxiety/depression levels prior to randomisation and treatment. Actigraphy data, an objective measure of circadian function, demonstrated that patients' rest-activity circadian function differs significantly from control subjects. Our patients reported poor sleep quality and high levels of fatigue. Ferrans and Powers QoL Index instrument found a high level of dissatisfaction with health-related QoL. Data from the European Organization for Research and Treatment for Cancer reported poor capacity to fulfil the activities of daily living. Patients studied in the hospital during or near chemotherapy had significantly more abnormal circadian function than those studied in the ambulatory setting. Our data indicate that measurement of circadian sleep/activity dynamics should be accomplished in the outpatient/home setting for a minimum of 4-7 circadian cycles to assure that they are most representative of the patients' true condition. We conclude that the daily sleep/activity patterns of patients with advanced lung cancer are disturbed. These are accompanied by marked disruption of QoL and function. These data argue for investigating how much of this poor functioning and QoL are actually caused by this circadian disruption, and, whether behavioural, light-based, and or pharmacologic strategies to correct the circadian/sleep activity patterns can improve function and QoL.