INTRODUCTION: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains one of the big cancer killers, despite the introduction of a number of approved therapeutics in recent times. Pemetrexed is a multi-target folate inhibitor, which is currently available to patients affected by advanced non-squamous NSCLC in combination with a platinum derivate in first-line therapy and as a single agent in second-line therapy. Areas covered: This review covers presents the use pemetrexed in the management of NSCLC by exploring the data available from clinical trials and meta-analyses. Data from a phase III trial confirmed its role in the first-line setting in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Furthermore, data suggested a role for pemetrexed in local and advanced NSCLC. Expert opinion: To date, in spite of the introduction of novel anti-neoplastic agents, pemetrexed still represents a cornerstone in the management of non-squamous NSCLC. Furthermore, recently published data support its role in innovative combinations including together with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.