Elevated levels of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) enhance translation of many malignancy-related proteins, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), c-Myc and osteopontin. In non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), levels of eIF4E are significantly increased compared with normal lung tissue. Here, we used an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) to inhibit the expression of eIF4E in NSCLC cell lines. eIF4E levels were significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner in NSCLC cells treated with eIF4E-specific ASO (4EASO) compared with control ASO. Treatment of NSCLC cells with the 4EASO resulted in decreased cap-dependent complex formation, decreased cell proliferation and increased sensitivity to gemcitabine. At the molecular level, repression of eIF4E with ASO resulted in decreased expression of the oncogenic proteins VEGF, c-Myc and osteopontin, whereas expression of β-actin was unaffected. Based on these findings, we conclude that eIF4E-silencing therapy alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy represents a promising approach deserving of further investigation in future NSCLC clinical trials.