In patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), if not identified promptly, could be fatal. It is the leading cause of failure of induction and early death. Thus, biomarkers that could promptly predict severe complications are critical. Here, cytokine differences between patients with APL with and without ICH were investigated to develop predictive models for this complication. The initial cytokine profiling using plasma samples from 39 patients and 18 healthy donors found a series of cytokines that were remarkedly different between patients with APL and healthy controls. The APL patients were subsequently divided into high and low white blood cell count groups. Results showed that tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 8 (IL-8) were vital in distinguishing patients with APL who did or did not develop ICH. In addition, verification in 81 patients with APL demonstrated that the two cytokines were positively correlated with the cumulative incidence of ICH. Finally, in-vitro and in-vivo experimental evidence were provided to show that IL-8 influenced the migration of APL-derived NB4 cells and impaired the blood–brain barrier in PML/RARα positive blast-transplanted FVB/NJ mice. These assessments may facilitate the early warning of ICH and reduce future mortality levels in APL.