PURPOSE:To identify potential molecular targets for lung cancer intervention and diagnosis, we analyzed the differential miRNA expression of peripheral blood between lung cancer patients and healthy controls. METHODS:Three pairs of cases' and controls' peripheral blood samples were evaluated for miRNA expression by microarray. 12 miRNAs were selected for RT-PCR validation and target genes prediction. In addition, 4 miRNAs were selected for future validation by RT-PCR in a large sample of 145 cases and 55 frequency-matched healthy controls. RESULTS:A total of 338 differentially expressed miRNAs were screened and identified by microarray. According to the fold changes, the top ten upregulated miRNAs were hsa-miR-124-3p, hsa-miR-379-5p, hsa-miR-3655, hsa-miR-450b-5p, hsa-miR-29a-5p, hsa-miR-200a-3p, hsa-miR-542-3p, hsa-miR-138-5p, hsa-miR-219a-2-3p, and hsa-miR-4701-3p, and the top ten downregulated miRNAs were hsa-miR-34c-5p, hsa-miR-135a-5p, hsa-miR-132-3p, hsa-miR-3178, hsa-miR-4449, hsa-miR-4999-3p, hsa-miR-1246, hsa-miR-4424, hsa-miR-1252-5p, and hsa-miR-24-2-5p. RT-PCR verification of the 12 miRNAs revealed that 5 of 8 upregulated miRNAs, 2 of 4 downregulated miRNAs showed a significant difference between the cases and controls (P < .05). A large number of target genes and their functional set showed overlapping among the 453 predicted target genes of the 12 miRNAs (P < .01). RT-PCR in the large sample confirmed the significant differential expression level of hsa-miR-29a-5p, hsa-miR-135a-5p, hsa-miR-542-3p, and hsa-miR-4491 between cases and controls (P < .05), and three of these microRNA, except hsa-miR-29a-5p, were significant after Bonferroni correction for adjustment of multiple comparisons. CONCLUSION:There was a significant difference in miRNAs expression in the peripheral blood between lung cancer patients and healthy controls, and 4 miRNAs were validated by a large-size sample.