After chemoradiation for localized non-small-cell lung cancer, surgery and prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) have been used as additional therapies. Less than a third of patients develop brain recurrences, or have local recurrence as their sole initial site of recurrence; these are groups that would benefit from PCI or surgery, respectively. Pretreatment identification of patients more likely to benefit from surgery or PCI would be useful. A retrospective analysis of 80 patients was performed to determine prognostic factors for such patterns of failure. Twenty-nine patients were subsequently selected for surgery in a nonrandomized manner. Seventeen patients had isolated local initial recurrence and 15 had brain recurrences. In multivariable analysis, female gender and elevated LDH were found to be risk factors for brain recurrence. In the subset with stage III disease (n = 76), squamous cell histology was a risk factor for isolated initial local recurrence in both univariable and multivariable analysis. It is possible to identify subsets that may show increased benefit from PCI or surgery.