In the past decade, the introduction of molecularly targeted agents and immune-checkpoint inhibitors has led to improved survival outcomes for patients with advanced-stage lung cancer; however, this disease remains the leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Two large randomized controlled trials of low-dose CT (LDCT)-based lung cancer screening in high-risk populations - the US National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) and NELSON - have provided evidence of a statistically significant mortality reduction in patients. LDCT-based screening programmes for individuals at a high risk of lung cancer have already been implemented in the USA. Furthermore, implementation programmes are currently underway in the UK following the success of the UK Lung Cancer Screening (UKLS) trial, which included the Liverpool Health Lung Project, Manchester Lung Health Check, the Lung Screen Uptake Trial, the West London Lung Cancer Screening pilot and the Yorkshire Lung Screening trial. In this Review, we focus on the current evidence on LDCT-based lung cancer screening and discuss the clinical developments in high-risk populations worldwide; additionally, we address aspects such as cost-effectiveness. We present a framework to define the scope of future implementation research on lung cancer screening programmes referred to as Screening Planning and Implementation RAtionale for Lung cancer (SPIRAL).