Background The purpose of this study was to compare functional and oncologic outcome of sleeve lobectomy (SL) with that of standard lobectomy (STL) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Methods Between January 2009 and April 2013, 44 consecutive patients undergoing upper SL (29 right side, 15 left side) were prospectively enrolled to be compared with 44 patients with the same side distribution who were randomly selected from patients undergoing upper STL during the study period. Functional and oncologic results of the two groups were compared. Results Pathologic tumor stage ranged between I and IIIa with similar patient distribution between the two groups. Postoperative complication rates were 20.5% in the SL group and 16% in the STL group. There was no postoperative mortality in either group. Mean postoperative decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 second at 3 months postoperatively was 17.5% ± 6.2% in the SL group and 19% ± 14.8% in the STL group (p = 0.52). There also was no significant difference (p = 0.15) in mean postoperative decrease in 6-minute walk test (64.3 ± 2.5 m versus 69.1 ± 21.4 m) between the two groups. Evaluation of postoperative changes in quality of life at 3 and 6 months based on a standardized questionnaire (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire - Core Questionnaire) did not show significant differences between the SL group and the STL group (p > 0.05) in terms of global health status, physical functioning, and fatigue. Actuarial survival rates at 3 and 5 years, respectively, were 85.3% and 60.1% in the SL group and 88.7% and 58.2% in the STL group, without significant difference (p = 0.68). Conclusions Functional and oncologic results of SL are comparable to those of STL in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.