Background: Some non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) progress to distant lymph nodes or metastasize while relatively small. Such small aggressive NSCLCs (SA-NSCLC) are no longer resectable with curative intent, carry a grave prognosis, and may involve unique biological pathways. This is a study of factors associated with SA-NSCLC. Methods: A nested case-case study was embedded in the National Cancer Institute's Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. SA-NSCLC cases had stage T1, N3, and/or M1 NSCLC (n = 48) and non-SA-NSCLC cases had T2 to T3, N0 to N2, and M0 NSCLC (n = 329). Associations were assessed by multiple logistic regression. Results: SA-NSCLCs were associated with younger age at diagnosis [odds ratio (OR) ≥65 versus <65, 0.44; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.22-0.88], female gender, family history of lung cancer, and the interaction gender*family history of lung cancer and were inversely associated with ibuprofen use (ORyes versus no, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.11-0.76). The ORs for associating gender (women versus men) with SA-NSCLC in those with and without a family history of lung cancer were 11.76 (95% CI, 2.00-69.22) and 1.86 (95% CI, 0.88-3.96), respectively. These associations held adjusted for histology and time from screening to diagnosis and when alternative controls were assessed. Conclusion: SA-NSCLC was associated with female gender, especially in those with a family history of lung cancer. If these exploratory findings, which are subject to bias, are validated as causal, elucidation of the genetic and female factors involved may improve understanding of cancer progression and lead to preventions and therapies. Ibuprofen may inhibit lung cancer progression.