Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is now the most curable subtype of acute myeloid leukemia in adults. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which induces differentiation of the leukemic cells into mature granulocytes, represents the important advance. The incorporation of ATRA in induction results in a high complete remission rate, leads to rapid resolution of the characteristic life-threatening coagulopathy, and, most importantly, decreases the relapse rate compared with treatment with chemotherapy alone. However, ATRA is associated with unique toxicities not observed with conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. A number of clinical trials have been performed to define the optimal role of ATRA in the treatment of patients. The therapeutic strategies have rapidly evolved as a result of both single institution and large cooperative group trials. Arsenic trioxide and stem cell transplantation are effective treatments for patients with APL who relapse after or are refractory to ATRA-based therapy. As experience with ATRA and arsenic trioxide in patients with APL accumulates, a number of important questions arise that need to be addressed.