The link between chronic immune activation and tumorigenesis is well established. Compelling evidence has accumulated that histologic assessment of infiltration patterns of different host immune response components in non-small cell lung cancer specimens helps identify different prognostic patient subgroups. This review provides an overview of recent insights gained in the understanding of the role played by chronic inflammation in lung carcinogenesis. The usefulness of quantification of different populations of lymphocytes, natural killer cells, macrophages, and mast cells within the tumor microenvironment in non-small cell lung cancer is also discussed. In particular, the importance of assessment of inflammatory cell microlocalization within both the tumor islet and surrounding stromal components is emphasized.