This review summarizes the past and present status of proton beam therapy (PBT) for lung cancer. PBT has a unique characteristic called the Bragg peak that enables a reduction in the dose of normal tissue around the tumor, but is sensitive to the uncertainties of density changes. The heterogeneity in electron density for thoracic lesions, such as those in the lung and mediastinum, and tumor movement according to respiration necessitates respiratory management for PBT to be applied in lung cancer patients. There are two types of PBT - a passively scattered approach and a scanning approach. Typically, a passively scattered approach is more robust for respiratory movement and a scanning approach could result in a more conformal dose distribution even when the tumor shape is complex. Large tumors of centrally located lung cancer may be more suitably irradiated than with intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) or stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). For a locally advanced lung cancer, PBT can spare the lung and heart more than photon IMRT. However, no randomized controlled trial has reported differences between PBT and IMRT or SBRT for early-stage and locally advanced lung cancers. Therefore, a well-designed controlled trial is warranted.