Until recently, the standard of care in the treatment of APL has involved the combination of all-trans retinoic acid with anthracycline-based chemotherapy during both induction and consolidation. Additionally, the intensity of consolidation chemotherapy has evolved according to a universally accepted relapse-risk stratification algorithm based on the white cell and platelet counts at presentation. That standard of care is being challenged by the increasing incorporation of arsenic trioxide into front-line treatment protocols, based on two complementary observations. The first is the undoubted anti-leukaemic activity of arsenic trioxide as shown in the relapsed and refractory setting, and in the initial management of low- and intermediate-risk patients. The second is an improved understanding of the action of both all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide in mediating APL cell eradication, with increasing recognition that PML-RARA fusion protein degradation rather than direct induction of terminal differentiation is the primary mechanism for their ability to eliminate leukaemia initiating cells. As a result, we believe the standard of care for initial therapy in APL is shifting towards an all-trans retinoic acid plus arsenic trioxide-based approach, with additional chemotherapy reserved for patients with high-risk disease.