BACKGROUND: The purpose of our retrospective study is to confirm that bilobectomy is a feasible operation with an oncological value. METHODS: From 1981 to 1998, 46 patients underwent bilobectomy for lung cancer. Eight upper and middle lobectomies (UML) and 38 middle and lower lobectomies (MLL) were performed. Intraoperative pneumoperitoneum was done in 11 MLL. We have considered operative mortality, postoperative complications, the persistence of drainage tubes and the length of hospital stay and the data were statistically compared with those relative to right lobectomies. Survival was estimated with the Kaplan-Meier method and the curves were compared with those of the right lobectomies and right pneumonectomies using the log-rank test. RESULTS: Overall morbidity was 43.4%. Mortality was 6.5%. Mean chest tube persistence was 7.8 days and mean hospital stay was 14 days. No statistical significance was found about these data comparing the UML and MLL separately and the bilobectomies with the right lobectomies. The pneumoperitoneum done in the MLL enabled a shorter hospital stay, statistically significant, in comparison with MLL without pneumoperitoneum. The overall 5-year survival rate was 38%. Considering the I and the II stages no statistical differences in survival were found considering the right lobectomies and right pneumonectomies. CONCLUSIONS: The bilobectomies can have a role in treatment of lung cancer that is equal to the other standard major resections.