This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of a novel preoperative combined-modality regimen in patients with locally advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with clinical stage IIB, IIIA, or IIIB NSCLC received preoperative combined-modality therapy with concurrent radiation therapy (RT) and weekly paclitaxel/carboplatin for 5 consecutive weeks. After this treatment, patients believed to have resectable disease by standard surgical criteria underwent thoracotomy. Patients whose disease remained unresectable after initial therapy received further RT with concurrent paclitaxel/carboplatin. Of 107 patients entered into this clinical trial, only 20 patients (19%) were considered to have surgically resectable disease at the time of study entry. Ninety-eight patients (92%) completed preoperative combined-modality therapy. Forty-nine patients (46%) underwent thoracotomy and 34 patients had definitive resection. Fourteen patients (13%) had pathologic complete response (pCR). Thirteen of 18 patients (72%) with clinical stage T3 N0 (IIB) tumors had definitive resections, and 33% had pCR. After a median follow-up of 32 months, the 1- and 2-year actuarial survival rates for the entire group are 64% and 42%, respectively. Favorable-prognosis subgroups included patients who had definitive resection and patients with clinical stage T3 N0 tumors (2-year survival rates of 67% for both subgroups). Preoperative therapy with RT and weekly paclitaxel/carboplatin showed activity in this patient population; however, disease in the majority of patients with extensive involvement of mediastinal nodes remained unresectable after this treatment. Results in patients who initially had unresectable disease do not appear different than results achieved with concurrent RT/chemotherapy approaches. Postoperative complications associated with this preoperative combined-modality regimen were more frequent than expected with resection alone.