International guidelines and new targeted therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have increased the need for accurate diagnosis of interstitial lung disease (ILD), which may lead to more surgical lung biopsies. This study aimed to assess the risk of this procedure in patients from the UK.We used Hospital Episodes Statistics data from 1997 to 2008 to assess the frequency of surgical lung biopsy for ILD in England, UK. We identified cardiothoracic surgical patients using International Classification of Diseases revision 10 codes for ILD and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys Classification of Interventions and Procedures version 4 codes for surgical lung biopsy. We excluded those with lung resections or lung cancer. We estimated in-hospital, 30-day and 90-day mortality following the procedure, and linked to cause of death using data from the UK Office of National Statistics.We identified 2820 patients with ILD undergoing surgical lung biopsy during the 12-year period. The number of biopsies increased over the time period studied. In-hospital, 30-day and 90-day mortality were 1.7%, 2.4% and 3.9%, respectively. Male sex, increasing age, increasing comorbidity and open surgery were risk factors for mortality.Surgical lung biopsy for ILD has a similar mortality to lobectomy for lung cancer, and clinicians and patients should understand the likely risks involved.