Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a genetically heterogeneous myeloid malignancy that occurs more commonly in adults, and has an increasing incidence, most likely due to increasing age. Precise diagnostic classification of AML requires clinical and pathologic information, the latter including morphologic, immunophenotypic, cytogenetic and molecular genetic analysis. Risk stratification in AML requires cytogenetics evaluation as the most important predictor, with genetic mutations providing additional necessary information. AML with normal cytogenetics comprises about 40%-50% of all AML, and has been intensively investigated. The currently used 2008 World Health Organization classification of hematopoietic neoplasms has been proposed to be updated in 2016, also to include an update on the classification of AML, due to the continuously increasing application of genomic techniques that have led to major advances in our knowledge of the pathogenesis of AML. The purpose of this review is to describe some of these recent major advances in the diagnostic classification and risk stratification of AML.