Paul Lambert's side had gone four games without a win at Villa Park but two second-half goals gave the club all three points and condemned Malky Mackay's side to defeat.
Leandro Bacuna's superb 76th-minute free kick was Villa's first goal in five matches and Libor Kozak's cushioned header eight minutes later proved enough to earn Paul Lambert's side its first win since the 3-2 victory over Manchester City at the end of September.
The closest the visiting team came to scoring was in the 10th minute as Kozak almost put through his own net but, otherwise, Malky Mackay's side created very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities, failing to build on its memorable 1-0 victory over Welsh rival Swansea City last week.
|VIEW FROM VILLA PARK
|By Tom Davis
It was not the prettiest of games you will ever see but Aston Villa has done what it set out to do by winning its first game in five attempts in the league. A now customary Leandro Bacuna free kick gave the home side the lead and its first goal in seven and a half hours of football.
Malky Mackay did not see enough from his side going forward when it should have been buoyed by the derby win last weekend and Villa’s shaky home form. As it is, it is an invaluable win for Lambert.
For Cardiff, there was just one alteration from Sunday's derby triumph over Swansea as Aron Gunnarsson came in for Jordon Mutch, who dropped to the bench.
The home side started brighter, Marshall stretching to parry Karim El Ahmadi's effort from distance in the fifth minute, with Steven Caulker nipping the ball away from Christian Benteke as the Belgium international looked to convert the rebound.
Kozak almost gifted Cardiff the lead five minutes later, the striker inexplicably nodding Gary Medel's free kick narrowly wide of his own goal under no pressure.
In a frantic opening, Brad Guzan rushed from his line to deny Gunnarsson in the 12th minute before the pace of the game slowed noticeably.
Goalmouth action was scarce after the break, with Ashley Westood fizzing a 25-yard shot narrowly wide in the 63rd minute as each team struggled to make any impression on the opposition defenses.
However, the home side made a crucial breakthrough 13 minutes later, Bacuna bending the ball brilliantly around the wall from 25 yards to the relief of the home support inside Villa Park.
Shortly afterwards, Villa doubled the lead, Lowton nodding the ball back across goal, where Kozak was on hand to redirect beyond a despairing Marshall to seal the points and send Villa above its opponent in the table.