Although acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is one of the most characterized forms of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of this disease are still a matter of study. APL is defined by the PML-RARA rearrangement as a consequence of the translocation t(15;17)(q24;q21). However, this abnormality alone is not able to trigger the whole leukemic phenotype and secondary cooperating events might contribute to APL pathogenesis. Additional somatic mutations are known to occur recurrently in several genes, such as FLT3 , WT1 , NRAS and KRAS , whereas mutations in other common AML genes are rarely detected, resulting in a different molecular profile compared to other AML subtypes. How this mutational spectrum, including point mutations in the PML-RARA fusion gene, could contribute to the 10%–15% of relapsed or resistant APL patients is still unknown. Moreover, due to the uncertain impact of additional mutations on prognosis, the identification of the APL-specific genetic lesion is still the only method recommended in the routine evaluation/screening at diagnosis and for minimal residual disease (MRD) assessment. However, the gene expression profile of genes, such as ID1, BAALC, ERG , and KMT2E, once combined with the molecular events, might improve future prognostic models, allowing us to predict clinical outcomes and to categorize APL patients in different risk subsets, as recently reported. In this review, we will focus on the molecular characterization of APL patients at diagnosis, relapse and resistance, in both children and adults. We will also describe different standardized molecular approaches to study MRD, including those recently developed. Finally, we will discuss how novel molecular findings can improve the management of this disease.