Introduction In the relapsed setting, arsenic trioxide remains the backbone of treatment. Scant literature exists regarding treatment of relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia in patients with renal failure. To the best of our knowledge we are the first to report a safe and effective means of treatment for relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia in the setting of advanced renal failure, employing titration of arsenic trioxide based on clinical parameters rather than arsenic trioxide levels. Case presentation A 33-year-old Caucasian man with a history of acute promyelocytic leukemia in remission for 3 years, as well as dialysis-dependent chronic renal failure secondary to a solitary kidney and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and human immunodeficiency virus infection, receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy presented to our hospital with bone marrow biopsy-confirmed relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia. Arsenic trioxide was begun at a low dose with dose escalation based only on side effect profile monitoring and not laboratory testing for induction as well as maintenance without undue toxicity. Our patient achieved and remains in complete hematologic and molecular remission as of this writing. Conclusion Arsenic trioxide can be used safely and effectively to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia in patients with advanced renal failure using careful monitoring of side effects rather than blood levels of arsenic to guide therapeutic dosing.