It has been hypothesised that clinically evident lung cancers have accumulated many different genetic or epigenetic abnormalities in oncogenes and/or tumour suppressor genes. This notion has important clinical ramifications. Recent developments in our knowledge of the molecular biology of lung cancer are reviewed, with particular reference to genetic abnormalities in tumour suppressor gene inactivation and overactivity of growth promoting oncogenes. These changes lead to the "hallmarks of lung cancer". These hallmarks are the new rational targets for early detection, prevention, and treatment of lung cancer.