Introduction: This systematic review addresses the use of epidermal growth factor receptor (egfr) inhibitors in three populations of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (nsclc) patients—unselected, selected, and molecularly selected—in three treatment settings: first line, second line, and maintenance. Methods: Ninety-six randomized controlled trials found using the medline and embase databases form the basis of this review. Results: In the first-line setting, data about the efficacy of egfr tyrosine kinase inhibitors (tkis) compared with platinum-based chemotherapy are inconsistent. Results from studies that selected patients based on clinical characteristics are also mixed. There is high-quality evidence that an egfr tki is preferred over a platinum doublet as initial therapy for patients with an activating mutation of the EGFR gene. The egfr tkis are associated with a higher likelihood of response, longer progression-free survival, and improved quality of life. Multiple trials of second-line therapy have compared an egfr tki with chemotherapy. Meta-analysis of those data demonstrates similar progression-free and overall survival. There is consequently no preferred sequence for second-line egfr tki or second-line chemotherapy. The egfr tkis have also been evaluated as switch-maintenance therapy. No molecular marker could identify patients in whom a survival benefit was not observed; however, the magnitude of the benefit was modest. Conclusions: Determination of EGFR mutation status is essential to making appropriate treatment decisions in patients with nsclc. Patients who are EGFR mutation–positive should be treated with an egfr tki as first-line therapy. An egfr tki is still appropriate therapy in patients who are EGFR wild-type, but the selected agent should be administered as second- or third-line therapy.