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We retrospectively evaluated whether a surgical strategy benefits patients with operable lung metastasis of breast cancer. Between 1960 and 2000, 90 patients (mean age 55.1; range 32-77) with lung metastasis (79 solitary, 11 multiple) underwent surgery as follows: wedge resection (n = 10), segmental resection (n = 11), lobectomy (n = 68) and pneumonectomy (n = 1). The metastases were completely resected in 89% of them. One patient died due to surgical complications. The overall 5- and 10-year cumulative overall survival rates were 54% and 40%, respectively (median, 6.3 years). Fifteen patients survived without relapse for over 10 years. They were 24% of those who progressed for 10 years or more after lung surgery. The most significant prognostic factor was disease-free interval (DFI) and stage at breast surgery. The 10-year survival rates of those with ≧3 and <3 years of DFI were 47% and 26%, respectively (P = 0.014). Survival times were significantly longer for patients with clinical stage I at breast surgery than those with stage II-IV (P = 0.013). Our data, although limited and highly selective, suggest that surgical approach to lung metastasis from breast cancer may prolong survival in certain subgroups of patients to a greater extent than systemic chemotherapy alone. Surgical approach to lung metastasis of breast cancer, if possible, should be a treatment of choice to a great extent.