Cardiff got their Championship campaign back on track at the Madejski Stadium as Reading's wretched home form continued with a 1-0 defeat.
Chris Burke's second-half goal settled the contest in favour of the Welsh side who finished with 10 men following Stephen McPhail's red card.
Mark Kennedy and Peter Whittingham linked up well down the left side and Whittingham's cross evaded everyone in the box except Burke who took one touch to steady himself before driving the ball into the roof of the net in the decisive piece of action.
The former Rangers midfielder should have put the game beyond Reading midway through the second half but, with the goal at his mercy, stood on the ball after Whittingham's cross found him unmarked at the far post.
Reading desperately chased the equaliser and Simon Church flashed a shot narrowly wide of the far post.