In 1986, the team relocated from Kodaira to Kashiwa, but it took a while to adapt to the new town, as they were relegated to the JSL Division 2 at the season's closing. They made it back to the top flight in 1989, only to drop back in 1990 and return in 1991. As the J. League advent had come too soon for them, Hitachi chose to relegate itself in the last JSL season.
The team joined the Japan Football League in 1992 and added Careca of the Brazil national football team with the aim of winning the JFL champion for promotion to the J1 league in 1993. Kashiwa Reysol struggled; however, with the help of Hisao Ariga, Careca and Ze Sergio Kashiwa Reysol were a great force. The quest was unsuccessful and the team barely managed to come in at the fifth spot. In 1994 the team secured the second spot in the JFL and earned promotion to the top league. From 1995, it was in the J1 and in 1998, the team welcomed the former manager for Japan's Olympic team, Akira Nishino as its manager. In 1999, it won its first title, the Nabisco Cup Championship. The 1999 and 2000 seasons marked a relative highpoint in the club's history.
Over the next two seasons, management changes, in particular the tenure of English coach Steve Perryman, unsettled the team and they lost ground. Things got worse still. Following a 16th place out of 18 finish in the 2005 standings, Kashiwa Reysol lost the promotion/relegation play-offs against the 3rd place J2 team Ventforet Kofu. For the first time, three J1 teams were sent down to J2.
Following relegation the team lost all its former players. It began 2006 with both a new coach, Nobuhiro Ishizaki, and an almost entirely new squad. Kashiwa lead J2 for much of 2006, but a series of poor performances in the later stages saw them slip down the table. It was only in the final game of the season that the team secured automatic promotion to J1 as first-placed runners-up.
In 2009 they were relegated again, but in 2010 they won the J2 title and in 2011, against all predictions, won the J1 title, becoming the first Japanese team to win the second and first tier titles back-to-back. By winning the title in 2011, they also qualified for the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.