Along with her sisters Amba and Ambika, Ambalika was taken by force by Bhishma from their Swayamvara, the latter having challenged and defeated the assembled royalty. He presented them to Satyavati for marriage to Vichitravirya. Ambalika and her sister spent seven years in their husband's company. Vichitravirya was affected with phthisis (tuberculosis) and died soon after.
After Vichitravirya's death, his mother Satyavati sent for her first born, RishiVeda Vyasa. She asked him to father children on the widowed queens of Vichitravirya according to the prevalent custom of Niyoga. Veda Vyasa had come from years of intense meditation and as a result, he looked tremendously unkempt. When he approached Ambalika, she turned pale in fear. Her son Pandu, the result of the niyoga, was born with a pale appearance.
After the death of Pandu, Ambalika accompanied her mother-in-law Satyavati and sister Ambika to the forest and spent the rest of her days in spiritual retreat.