Lung cancer is biologically aggressive and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The development of lung cancer is unique in each patient according to clinical characterizations, prognosis, response and tolerance to treatment. Traditional capillary-based single-gene sequencing by a first-generation technique (known as Sanger sequencing) has been replaced by next-generation sequencing (NGS) since it allows massive parallel sequencing with lower cost and higher throughput. The NGS approach has made remarkable advances compared with traditional methods. We expect these methodologies to comprehensively interpret the global landscape of cancer and provide more information to fulfill the needs of personalized medicine. This review covers a brief introduction and summary on various NGS technologies, applications and important findings by NGS in lung cancer advances, including further discoveries in previously known target genes (EGFR, ALK and KRAS), the identification of additional lung cancer mutations and the global coordination of cancer genome studies.