Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. The LIFE (Light Induced Fluorescence Endoscopy) Project was initiated at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in November, 1999, for the dual purposes of (1) detecting pre-invasive lung cancer in high-risk patients and (2) studying the molecular biology of pre-invasive lesions of the bronchus for possible development of molecular biomarkers. Of the 47 patients enrolled, all were current or former tobacco smokers, except for 1. Fluorescence endoscopy was utilized, in addition to white light bronchoscopy, to increase the detection of intraepithelial lesions. Adjacent biopsies were submitted for permanent and frozen sections, respectively, from four predetermined sites as well as from any abnormal areas. The snap-frozen specimens were cryostat sectioned, and the mucosal epithelial cells laser capture microdissected for DNA analysis. The great majority of specimens yielded sufficiently abundant and intact DNA to accomplish the molecular objectives. Histologic concordance of adjacent permanent and frozen sections was equivalent to the concordance of adjacent permanent sections, suggesting that frozen section diagnosis was adequate for the research purpose of correlating histology with molecular analysis.