The value of radical systematic lymphadenectomy in the treatment of bronchial carcinoma is controversial. In a randomized controlled clinical trial, radical lymphadenectomy was compared with conventional node dissection in 182 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Comparison of short-term results revealed a significantly longer operating time in those undergoing systematic lymphadenectomy, but overall morbidity and mortality rates were comparable between groups. However, there were complications associated with radical lymphadenectomy such as prolonged air leakage and haemorrhage. Interim analysis of results at a median follow-up of 26.8 months showed no significant influence of radical lymphadenectomy on local recurrence-free interval, metastasis-free interval or cancer-related survival. In conclusion, radical systematic lymphadenectomy is a safe operation that leads to a better staging of non-small cell lung cancer, but its prognostic benefit is questionable.