Retrospective single institution analysis of all patients undergoing sleeve lobectomy or pneumonectomy between 2000 and 2005. Seventy-eight patients underwent pneumonectomy (65 patients <70 years, 13 patients >70 years) and 69 sleeve lobectomy (50 patients <70 years, 19 patients >70 years). Pre-existing co-morbidity, surgical indication and induction therapy was similarly distributed between treatment by age-groups. In patients <70 years, pneumonectomy and sleeve lobectomy resulted in a 30-day mortality of 3% vs. 0 and an overall complication rate of 26% vs. 44%, respectively. In patients >70 years, pneumonectomy and sleeve lobectomy resulted in a 30-day mortality of 15% vs. 0 and an overall complication rate of 23% vs. 32%. In both age groups, pneumonectomy was associated with more airway complications (NS) and a significantly higher postoperative loss of FEV(1) than sleeve lobectomy (P<0.0001, P<0.03). Age per se did not influence the loss of FEV(1) and DLCO for a given type of resection. Sleeve lobectomy may have a therapeutic advantage over pneumonectomy in the postoperative course of elderly patients.