Central nervous system (CNS) involvement by cytospin is associated with increased risk of relapse in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We investigated if flow cytometric analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at diagnosis improves the prediction of relapse. This prospective cohort study included patients (1.0-17.9 years) treated according to the Nordic Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology ALL2008 protocol. CSF flow cytometry samples were obtained at 17 centers, preserved with Transfix®, and analyzed at a central laboratory. One-hundred and seventy-one (25.4%) of 673 patients were positive by flow cytometry (CNSflow+). The 4-year cumulative incidence of relapse was higher for patients with cytospin positivity (CNScyto+) (17.1% vs. 7.5%), CNSflow+ (16.5% vs. 5.6%), and cytospin and/or flow positivity (CNScomb+) (16.7% vs. 5.1%). In Cox regression analysis stratified by immunophenotype and minimal residual disease day 29 and adjusted by sex, predictors of relapse were age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.1, 95% CI 1.1-1.2, P < 0.001), white blood cell count at diagnosis (HR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1-1.6, P < 0.001), and CNScomb+ (HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.0-4.7, P = 0.042). Flow cytometric analysis of CSF improves detection of CNS leukemia, distinguishes patients with high and low risk of relapse, and may improve future risk stratification and CNS-directed therapy.