Emerging evidence indicates that NKX2-1, a homeobox-containing transcription factor also known as TTF-1, plays a role as a "lineage-survival" oncogene in lung adenocarcinomas. In T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, gene rearrangements lead to aberrant expression of NKX2-1/TTF-1. Despite accumulating evidence supporting its oncogenic role, it has become apparent that NKX2-1/TTF-1 expression also has biological and clinical functions in the opposite direction that act against tumor progression. Herein, we review recent findings showing these enigmatic double-edged characteristics, with special attention given to the roles of NKX2-1/TTF-1 in lung development and carcinogenesis. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.