Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML) almost always involves a chromosomal translocation t(1517) that results in the fusion of the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR alpha) gene with a transcription factor gene called PML. Several cases of APML with t(11;17) have recently been described, involving fusion of the RAR alpha gene with a new zinc finger gene named PLZF. We report here a second non-classical translocation, t(5;17), with a rearranged RAR alpha gene in a child with APML. Based on restriction endonuclease analysis, the rearrangement of RAR alpha occurred within the second intron, the common breakpoint site for t(15;17). The leukemic cells in the bone marrow aspirate were a mixture of hypergranular and hypogranular bilobed promyelocytes. Although less than 1% abnormal promyelocytes were identified after induction therapy, cytogenetics revealed persistent t(5;17). Therefore, the child was treated with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). There was no disease progression, and one marrow was interpreted as remission, with confirmation by cytogenetics which failed to reveal the translocation. However, disease reoccurred shortly after completion of ATRA. This poor response to ATRA may be an additional characteristic associated with non-classical translocations in APML. The identification of a second variant translocation involving the RAR alpha gene in APML suggests yet another RAR alpha rearrangement related to neoplastic myelopoiesis.