Purpose: To compare the anxiety, depression and explore their relationship to quality of life (QoL) among adult acute leukemia (AL) patients and family caregivers (FCs) in China. Methods: A multicenter cross-sectional study was conducted from April 2017 to January 2018. The sample comprised 207 dyads of adult AL patients and FCs. The participants were required to complete socio-demographic information and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Leukemia (FACT-Leu, only for patients) and MOS 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36, only for FCs) were used to measure QoL. Results: The mean scores of anxiety and depression for AL patients were 7.89 ± 3.85 and 7.18 ± 4.23, respectively. For FCs, the mean scores of anxiety and depression were 9.96 ± 3.73 and 8.64 ± 3.74. In this study, adult AL Patients' sex, patients' depression score, whether patients achieving a CR or not, education, FCs' depression score, patients' social/family well-being and emotional well-being were significantly associated with patients' anxiety or depression (p < 0.05). For FCs, depression was significantly related to the physical component summary (β = 0.127, p = 0.008). There were significant differences in anxiety (t = − 5.92, p < 0.001) and depression (t = − 4.19, p < 0.001) between patients and FCs. Conclusions: AL patients' FCs showed higher score of anxiety and depression than that of patients. The psychological health may have a potential relationship between AL patients and their FCs. Healthcare professionals can conduct family-center interventions to improve mental health and QoL of AL patients and FCs.