Treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer is evolving from the use of cytotoxic chemotherapy to personalised treatment based on molecular alterations. This past decade has witnessed substantial progress in the treatment of patients with EGFR mutations and ALK rearrangements, and it is now possible to study complex genomic alterations in cancer using next-generation sequencing. Sequencing data from large-scale consortia, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas, as well as several independent groups, have helped identify novel drivers and potentially targetable alterations in lung adenocarcinomas. These data clearly suggest that lung adenocarcinoma is associated with distinct genomic alterations compared with other lung cancer subtypes, and highlight the widespread molecular heterogeneity that underlies the disease. In this Review, we discuss some of the key findings from genomic studies of lung adenocarcinoma.