In the 1980s, Cox was a House DJ, and became a mainstage DJ in the electronica industry. He has performed at numerous clubs and events worldwide and has served as a monthly DJ for BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix. He has hosted a residency known as 'Music is Revolution' every summer season at the world renowned nightclub, Space Ibiza, from 2001 to 2016.
He runs the record label, Intec Digital, which was founded in 1999 as Intec Records. Cox also had his own radio show, entitled 'Global'. In 2017 he announced that from February onwards he would no longer work on the show.
At aged 15, Cox began working as a mobile DJ, finding a passion for disco music. He began his music career around the same time that Chicago house music found its forefront in the world of dance music. He eventually became known as one of the founders of that sound and rode the exploding British rave scene. Following the beginning of his DJ career, he became one of the only DJs known to utilize three-deck mixing. Cox has performed at clubs such as the Eclipse, Shelley's Laserdome, Sterns Nightclub, Heaven, Sir Henry's in Cork, Ireland and Angels and The Haienda, as well as raves for Fantazia, Dreamscape, NASA and Amnesia House.
In the early 1990s, he decided that it was time to begin producing music, which is when he released his debut single for Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto label, "I Want You (Forever)". Cox became known as one of the best "celebrity DJs" in the world, and he continued to create music, eventually embracing the underground sounds of techno that would soon become very popular.
He ran Ultimate Base at the now defunct Velvet Underground club on Charing Cross Road, London in the mid-to late 1990s. Cox also played the Millennium (1999 to 2000) on New Year's Eve twice, by performing in Sydney, Australia and again in Hawaii after flying back over the International Date Line. He was also global resident DJ for BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix in 1998-99 and he has also broadcast over a decade's-worth of Ibiza live mixes from Space, specifically from 2001 to 2016. In 1997, DJ Magazine chose Cox as the first #1 DJ for its first top 100 poll, which to this day still takes place.
Cox formed his own record label, Intec Records in 1998. From 1999 to 2006, Intec Records released a myriad of underground hits and became one of the best in dance music. However, in 2006 he decided to put the label on a brief hiatus and relaunched it in 2010 as Intec Digital.
Carl Cox is also famously known for shouting catchphrases during his sets such as "Oh yes, Oh yes!" and "fantastic, fannntastic!".
In 2004, Cox debuted the Carl Cox & Friends arena at Ultra Music Festival, which has since taken place for twelve years. In the film, "Can U Feel It?", a documentary about Ultra Music Festival, Cox explains that the concept of Carl Cox & Friends came about as a result of not only wanting to play longer sets at festivals, but also to give festival goers an experience within the festival, as Carl has far more creative control over his own stage. The stage is wildly popular with festival goers, and has featured artists like Laurent Garnier, Nic Fanciulli, Loco Dice, Marco Carola, Maceo Plex, and many more. Since he created the Carl Cox & Friends concept in 2004, this curated stage has taken place at other festivals and events including Awakenings, EDC Las Vegas, The BPM Festival, Ultra Europe, Tomorrowland, Amsterdam Dance Event and many others.
In 2001, Cox began a yearly residency at the infamous nightclub, Space Ibiza located in Ibiza, Spain. He began playing on the terrace for Space's "We Love... Space on the Terrace." Following that, he was asked to play on Thursdays inside the club, which he was hesitant about at first. For fifteen years, Cox built his residency entitled "Music is Revolution." In 2016, he decided to end his yearly seasonal residency at Space Ibiza. In late 2015, Cox announced that 2016 will be his last year hosting a summer residency at Space Ibiza, as the club was closing and he came to the realization that Ibiza isn't the same as it used to be. The final season of Cox's residency at Space Ibiza was entitled "The Final Chapter" and took place every Tuesday during the summer of 2016. Cox finished his residency at Space Ibiza on 20 September 2016 by playing a vinyl and CDJ, ten-hour set. Artists who joined Cox on his final night as part of his residency at Space Ibiza included tINI, Popof, Nic Fanciulli, and DJ Sneak. Cox also played at Space Ibiza's closing fiesta on 2 October 2016 with Tale of Us, Anja Schneider, and Darius Syrossian. Space Ibiza announced more artists for its closing fiesta on 22 August 2016 and that included Josh Wink, Steve Bug, Roger Sanchez, Maceo Plex, and many more.
It was announced that Cox will star in an upcoming EDM-themed documentary titled What We Started with Martin Garrix showing thirty years of EDM history by focusing mainly on his and Martin Garrix's diverging careers. The documentary is co-written, produced and directed by Bert Marcus alongside executive producer and music supervisor Pete Tong.
While it was speculated by many that he would retire in 2017 after he finished his residency at Space Ibiza, Cox has continued to announce festivals and events for 2017 including three showcases at The BPM Festival, his stage at Ultra Music Festival, and two appearances at the Social Festival in Mexico and Colombia taking place this March. In 2017, Cox was also named the global ambassador of Ultra Music Festival's techno and house music concept, Resistance. Carl Cox also announced the 2017 dates for a festival he's curated entitled Pure Festival, which took place in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia during April 2017.
After sixteen years of Cox's Global radio podcast, he announced via Facebook that he would no longer be working on the show and that it would end in February 2017.