ABL gene translocations create constitutively active tyrosine kinases that are causative in chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and other hematopoietic malignancies. Consistent retention of ABL SH3/SH2 autoinhibitory domains, however, suggests that these leukemogenic tyrosine kinase fusion proteins remain subject to regulation. We resolve this paradox, demonstrating that BCR-ABL1 kinase activity is regulated by RIN1, an ABL SH3/SH2 binding protein. BCR-ABL1 activity was increased by RIN1 overexpression and decreased by RIN1 silencing. Moreover, Rin1(-/-) bone marrow cells were not transformed by BCR-ABL1, ETV6-ABL1 or BCR-ABL1(T315I), a patient-derived drug-resistant mutant, as judged by growth factor independence. Rescue by ectopic RIN1 verified a cell autonomous mechanism of collaboration with BCR-ABL1 during transformation. Sensitivity to the ABL kinase inhibitor imatinib was increased by RIN1 silencing, consistent with RIN1 stabilization of an activated BCR-ABL1 conformation having reduced drug affinity. The dependence on activation by RIN1 to unleash full catalytic and cell transformation potential reveals a previously unknown vulnerability that could be exploited for treatment of leukemic cases driven by ABL translocations. The findings suggest that RIN1 targeting could be efficacious for imatinib-resistant disease and might complement ABL kinase inhibitors in first-line therapy.