Irinotecan HCl (CPT-11) is an anticancer prodrug, but there is no available information addressing CPT-11-inhibited leukemia cells in in vitro and in vivo studies. Therefore, we investigated the cytotoxic effects of CPT-11 in promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells and in vivo and tumor growth in a leukemia xenograft model. Effects of CPT-11 on HL-60 cells were determined using flow cytometry, immunofluorescence staining, comet assay, real-time PCR, and Western blotting. CPT-11 demonstrated a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of cell growth, induction of apoptosis, and cell-cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase in HL-60 cells. CPT-11 promoted the release of AIF from mitochondria and its translocation to the nucleus. Bid, Bax, Apaf-1, caspase-9, AIF, Endo G, caspase-12, ATF-6b, Grp78, CDK2, Chk2, and cyclin D were all significantly upregulated and Bcl-2 was down-regulated by CPT-11 in HL-60 cells. Induction of cell-cycle arrest by CPT-11 was associated with changes in expression of key cell-cycle regulators such as CDK2, Chk2, and cyclin D in HL-60 cells. To test whether CPT-11 could augment antitumor activity in vivo, athymic BALB/c(nu/nu) nude mice were inoculated with HL-60 cells, followed by treatment with either CPT-11. The treatments significantly inhibited tumor growth and reduced tumor weight and volume in the HL-60 xenograft mice. The present study demonstrates the schedule-dependent antileukemia effect of CPT-11 using both in vitro and in vivo models. CPT-11 could potentially be a promising agent for the treatment of promyelocytic leukemia and requires further investigation.