Inherent and acquired drug resistance is a cause of chemotherapy failure, and pharmacogenomic studies have begun to define gene variations responsible for varied drug metabolism, which influences drug efficacy. Platinum-based compounds are the most commonly used chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of advanced stage lung cancer patients, and the glutathione metabolic pathway is directly involved in the detoxification or inactivation of platinum drugs. Consequently, genotypes corresponding to higher drug inactivation enzyme activity may predict poor treatment outcome. Available evidence is consistent with this hypothesis, although a definitive role for glutathione system genes in lung cancer prognosis needs to be elucidated. We present evidence supporting a role of the glutathione system in acquired and inherited drug resistance and/or adverse effects through the impact of either drug detoxification or drug inactivation, thus adversely effecting lung cancer treatment outcome. The potential application of glutathione system polymorphic genetic markers in identifying patients who may respond favorably, selecting effective antitumor drugs, and balancing drug efficacy and toxicity are discussed.