Lung cancer is a major cause of mortality in the United States and accounts for the majority of all cancer deaths in both men and women. It is hoped that through broadening our understanding of the mechanisms involved in transformation of bronchial epithelial cells we will be able to improve methods of diagnosis and treatment of this disease, with the ultimate goal of reducing on lung cancer mortality. A knowledge of the molecular mechanisms involved in processes such as cell division and differentiation is paramount to this task, because it is known that aberrant responses to growth factors or cytokines found in the normal cellular milieu can lead to abnormal cell growth and/or transformation. Signals initiated at the cell membrane by tumor promoters, growth factors, or cytokines are transduced from the cell membrane to the nucleus and are, in part, mediated centrally by transcription factors encoded by nuclear protooncogenes. The transcription factors myc, jun, and fos have been characterized in both normal and transformed lung epithelial cells through detailed studies using cell lines. In this manuscript, we review what is known about the expression and regulation of these nuclear protooncogenes in normal and malignant epithelial cells of the lung, and their role in the development of lung cancer.