He was born in Listvyanka.
Leonov was one of the twenty air force pilots selected as the first cosmonaut group in 1960. His spacewalk was originally to have taken place on the Vostok 11 mission, but this was cancelled, and the historic moment happened on the Voskhod 2 flight instead. By then, he had spent some eighteen months undergoing intense weightlessness training.
In 1968 Leonov was selected to be commander of a circumlunar Soyuz flight. However as all unmanned test flights of this mission failed, and the Apollo 8 mission already gave that point in the Space Race to the USA, the flight was cancelled.
From 1976 to 1982, Leonov was the commander of the cosmonaut team ("Chief Cosmonaut"), and deputy director of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, where he oversaw crew training. He also edited the cosmonaut newsletter "Neptune". He retired in 1991.
Leonov currently chairs an investment corporation in Moscow. He is an accomplished artist and his work has been widely exhibited and published.