Treatment outcome in older patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is lower compared with younger patients, mainly because of a higher induction death rate and postremission non-relapse mortality (NRM). This prompted us to design a risk- and age-adapted protocol (Programa Español de Tratamientos en Hematología (PETHEMA)/HOVON LPA2005), with dose reduction of consolidation chemotherapy. Patients aged ≥ 60 years reported to the PETHEMA registry and were treated with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) plus anthracycline-based regimens according to three consecutive PETHEMA trials that were included. We compared the long-term outcomes of the LPA2005 trial with the preceding PETHEMA trials using non-age-adapted schedules (LPA96&LPA99). From 1996 to 2012, 389 older patients were registered, of whom 268 patients (69%) were eligible. Causes of ineligibility were secondary APL (19%), and unfit for chemotherapy (11%). Median age was 67 years, without relevant differences between LPA2005 and LPA96&LPA99 cohorts. Overall, 216 patients (81%) achieved complete remission with no differences between trials. The 5-year NRM, cumulative incidence of relapse, disease-free survival and overall survival in the LPA2005 vs the LPA96&99 were 5 vs 18% (P = 0.15), 7 vs 12% (P = 0.23), 87 vs 69% (P = 0.04) and 74 vs 60% (P = 0.06). A less intensive front-line regimen with ATRA and anthracycline monochemotherapy resulted in improved outcomes in older APL patients.