We conducted a retrospective study to determine the clinical utility of percutaneous core needle biopsy (PCNBx) in 36 patients with peripheral focal chest lesions who later underwent thoracic surgery for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. PCNBx provided adequate material in 31/36 cases, giving an overall sample yield of 86.1%. PCNBx diagnosis was confirmed by surgery in 27/31 patients, giving a sensitivity of 91.6% and a specificity of 87.5%. In 4 patients, the lesions were misdiagnosed by PCNBx. In 5 patients with benign processes, surgical intervention could have been avoided, according to PCNBx results. The rate of PCNBx-induced pneumothorax was 11%. Radiologically guided PCNBx is an easy and safe procedure that can provide important preoperative diagnostic information and can circumvent the need for exploratory diagnostic surgery in cases of benign lesions. PCNBx also allows better preoperative planning in cases of malignancy.