Each of the pathological stages (I-IIIa) of surgically resected non-small-cell lung cancer has hidden biological heterogeneity, manifested as heterogeneous outcomes within each stage. Thus, the finding of robust and precise molecular classifiers with which to assess individual patient risk is an unmet medical need. Here, we identified and validated the clinical utility of a new prognostic signature based on three proteins (BRCA1, QKI, and SLC2A1) to stratify early-stage lung adenocarcinoma patients according to their risk of recurrence or death. Patients were staged according to the new International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) staging criteria (8th edition, 2018). A test cohort (n=239) was used to assess the value of this new prognostic index (PI) based on the three proteins. The prognostic signature was developed by Cox regression with the use of stringent statistical criteria (TRIPOD: Transparent reporting of a multivariable prediction model for individual prognosis or diagnosis). The model resulted in a highly significant predictor of 5-year outcome for disease-free survival (p<0.001) and overall survival (p<0.001). The prognostic ability of the model was externally validated in an independent multi-institutional cohort of patients (n=114, p=0.021). We also demonstrated that this molecular classifier adds relevant information to the gold standard TNM-based pathological staging, with a highly significant improvement of the likelihood ratio. We subsequently developed a combined PI including both the molecular and the pathological data that improved the risk stratification in both cohorts (p <= 0.001). Moreover, the signature may help to select stage I-IIA patients who might benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. In summary, this protein-based signature accurately identifies those patients with a high risk of recurrence and death, and adds further prognostic information to the TNM-based clinical staging, even when the new IASLC 8th edition staging criteria are applied. More importantly, it may be a valuable tool for selecting patients for adjuvant therapy. Copyright (C) 2018 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.