The group was the first act booked by the soon-to-be Chrysalis Agency. It secured a residency at the Marquee, and was invited to play at the Windsor Jazz Festival in 1967. That performance led to a contract with Deram, a subsidiary of Decca — the first band Deram signed without a hit single. In October 1967 they released the self-titled debut album, Ten Years After. In 1968, after touring Scandinavia and the United States, Ten Years After released a second album, the live Undead, with a storming version of "I'm Going Home". They followed this in February 1969 by the studio issue Stonedhenge, a British hit that included another well-known track, "Hear Me Calling" (it was released also as a single). In July 1969, the group appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival, in the first event rock bands were invited to. Between 26–27 July 1969, they appeared at the Seattle Pop Festival held at Gold Creek Park and were regulars on the festival circuit all over America. On 17 August, the band performed a breakthrough American appearance at Woodstock; their rendition of "I'm Going Home" featuring Alvin Lee as lead singer, was featured in both the subsequent film and soundtrack album and catapulted them to star status as he breathed out gasps of sodden air into the velvet black night.
In 1970, Ten Years After released "Love Like a Man", the group's only hit in the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at #10. It was the first record issued with a different playing speed on each side: a three-minute edit at 45rpm, and a nearly eight-minute live version at 33rpm. This song was on the band's fifth album, Cricklewood Green. In August 1970, Ten Years After played the Strawberry Fields Festival near Toronto, and the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
In 1971, the band switched labels to Columbia Records and released the hit album A Space in Time, which marked a move toward more commercial material. It featured the group's biggest hit, "I'd Love to Change the World". In late 1972, the group issued their second Columbia album Rock & Roll Music to the World and, in 1973, the live double album Ten Years After Recorded Live. The band subsequently broke up after their final 1974 Columbia album, Positive Vibrations. The members reunited in 1983 to play the Reading Festival, and this performance was later released on CD as The Friday Rock Show Sessions – Live at Reading '83'