The Blues went into the Cardiff Arms Park encounter with plenty of confidence following pre-season victories over London Scottish and Exeter Chiefs but they struggled to break down a committed and well organised Edinburgh side.
Danny Wilson’s men trailed at the interval with Duncan Weir giving the Scots a slender lead despite a converted Josh Navidi try.
Jarrod Evans levelled early in the second half but Weir kept the scoreboard ticking before Chris Dean dealt the knockout blow.
It was just the second time the Blues had fallen to an opening day defeat since 2009 and brought an end to a five game winning streak against the Scottish side.
They face Leinster in Dublin next before returning to the Arms Park to face Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, September 16.
Cardiff Blues made a commanding start in the first competitive fixture of the season and dominated the opening minutes.
They stretched Edinburgh’s defence on two occasions and a crisp attack down the blindside almost saw Rey Lee-Lo put Josh Turnbull away.
The flanker was tackled short and the ball was lost, with Edinburgh gradually working their way out of their own half.
Richard Cockerill’s side then set up camp in the Blues’ 22 and on 11 minutes Blair Kinghorn was put through a hole by a dubious looking pass for the opening try.
Duncan Weir added the conversion, and while the Blues attempted to battle back, marginal referee calls and last passes failed to go their way.
Following some fine attacking play, which put Matthew Morgan into space on the left, the full-back grubbered past the covering defence but was blocked and Edinburgh cleared.
They failed to find touch and the Blues hammered away for 20 phases, with both Alex Cuthbert and Lloyd Williams coming close but the Scots’ defence was resolute.
The home frustration grew on 27 minutes when they were harshly penalised at the scrum and Weir converted to stretch his side’s lead to 10-0.
Alarm bells rung for the Scots on the half-hour mark as Alex Cuthbert got a hand to Junior Rasolea’s pass but he couldn’t quite snatch what would have been a sensational interception.
Soon after, the Blues enjoyed another period of pressure and this time they made it count. Following a succession of phases Morgan released Summerhill on the left.
He eased outside one man but his return ball to Morgan was blocked. Edinburgh however , were unable to hold onto the ball and their defence was now out of sorts.
The ball was moved right and Jarrod Evans dinked a ball to the right corner, which Navidi collected before stepping inside the last defender.
Evans converted from wide to cut the Scots’ advantage to just three points at half-time approached.
The Blues started the second half well with their scrum causing Edinburgh all sorts of problems.
They won two consecutive penalties, the second of which Evans slotted to level the scores and prompt Cockerill to bring on an entire new front-row.
Weir nudged his side back into the lead on 51 minutes and they stretched their lead further six minutes later with a deserved try from Chris Dean, which the fly-half again converted.
The Blues battled manfully in the closing stages and pressed for a try to keep their hopes alive but they were unable to break Edinburgh down.