Wimbledon made only one change from the side that beat Gillingham 2-1 last week - Joel McAnuff replacing the inexperienced Ben Harding in midfield.
With captain Graham Kavanagh out through injury Tony Vidmar took the skipper's armband in his place for Cardiff.
Robert Earnshaw and Daniel Gabbidon, both fresh from international duty with Wales in midweek, lined up from the start hoping to put the disappointment of their Euro 2004 exit behind them.
The game got off to a lively start but it was the visitors who took the lead.
Gavin Gordon appeared to handle the ball in the Wimbledon penalty area but referee Howard Webb waved play on and Gary Croft's cross from the right eluded everyone and crept in at the far post.
Wimbledon's heads did not drop though and they pressed forward for the equaliser.
Nigel Reo-Coker spurned two good opportunities for the Dons midway through the half first shooting over after good work by Patrick Agyemang and then firing straight at City keeper Neil Alexander when through on goal just minutes later.
Cardiff were always a threat on the break but on the few occasions they did get behind the Wimbledon defence keeper Steve Banks was equal to the task.
Wimbledon enjoyed a lively start to the second half and almost equalised when the much-improved McAnuff ran through the Bluebirds defence before unleashing a fierce low shot that Alexander superbly tipped around the post.
Wimbledon dominated possession in the second half but created few real chances. Cardiff's best chance to double their lead came in the 73rd minute when Banks pulled off a fine save to push away Richard Langley 's free kick.
Wimbledon's pressure built up late on with McAnuff again running at the City defence but the Bluebirds held on for a valuable three points to leave the Dons still stuck at the bottom of Division One.