PURPOSE : Lung cancer has the highest death rate among all cancers in the USA. In this work we focus on improving the ability of computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems to predict the malignancy of nodules from cropped CT images of lung nodules.We evaluate the effectiveness of very deep convolutional neural networks at the task of expert-level lung nodule malignancy classification. Using the state-of-the-art ResNet architecture as our basis, we explore the effect of curriculum learning, transfer learning, and varying network depth on the accuracy of malignancy classification.Due to a lack of public datasets with standardized problem definitions and train/test splits, studies in this area tend to not compare directly against other existing work. This makes it hard to know the relative improvement in the new solution. In contrast, we directly compare our system against two state-of-the-art deep learning systems for nodule classification on the LIDC/IDRI dataset using the same experimental setup and data set. The results show that our system achieves the highest performance in terms of all metrics measured including sensitivity, specificity, precision, AUROC, and accuracy.The proposed method of combining deep residual learning, curriculum learning, and transfer learning translates to high nodule classification accuracy. This reveals a promising new direction for effective pulmonary nodule CAD systems that mirrors the success of recent deep learning advances in other image-based application domains.