The need for validate intermediate end point markers to facilitate lung cancer chemointervention research is competing. Three major classes of lung markers are relevant for this application. Since lung cancer includes four distinct hitologies, markers that map degrees of histologic differentiation are important. Many of the markers for squamous differentiation overlap with the candidates for application in the study of head and neck cancer. Production of tissue‐specific cell product especially for surfactant or CEA is of interest, because the gene structure is known and many differentiation‐related polymorphisms exist. This strategy would be useful for adenomatous type of tissue. A second type of marker is the broad group of differentiation markers. The carbohydrates or blood group‐like antigens comprise a representative example. Carbohydrate structures are expressed in a specific sequence during fetal processes, and this sequence appears to reverse with the development of a cancer. Retrodifferentiation of specific differentiation markers is the basis of a major effort to effect earlier lung cancer detection using sputum immunocytochemistry. The final class includes markers which affects either positive or negative aspects of growths. Candidates in this area include growth factors or their receptors or genes that regulate growth. If the intermediate end point marker reflects tumor biology and is in that casual path of tumor progression, serial observation of that parameter should indicate the success of the intervention. In all three of these examples the clinical material to be analyzed could be sputum specimens bonrchial biopsies or resected lung tissue. Systematic analysis of these markers in context of intervention trials required to validate their utility. Long term clinical follow up will demonstrate the degree of concordance between biomarkers and more traditional clinical trial end points and will establish if such tools can play a role in catalyzing the rate of prevention research. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc. Copyright © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.