Kurková was born in Dìèín, Czech Republic to a Czech father and Slovak mother. She had an early insight into what celebrity life would be like, since her father, Josef Kurka, was a star basketball player. As a child, her height made her relatively awkward and gangly, but that would all change with age. A close friend recognized her beauty and sent photos of Kurková to an agency in Prague. Kurková immediately landed a runway appearance, as well as a commercial and print ad. Still, being a model in the Czech Republic did not expose her to what fashion was really about, so Kurková took a chance and traveled to Milan to gain more experience. There, Miuccia Prada, the designer behind the famous brand, Prada, signed her to a contract that proved to be the beginning of a stellar career. In September 1999, Kurková's dedication and hard work lead to a meeting with the Vogue editors in New York City. She impressed them immediately, and the executives began to slowly groom her for success. A permanent move to New York and an even more hectic work schedule ensued. It all paid off when, at seventeen years old, Kurková landed a spot as the cover girl of the February 2001 issue of Vogue. Kurková was now recognized at haute couture fashion shows, and lingerie brand Victoria's Secret chose her to be a part of that year's televised fashion show special. Prominent fashion houses such as Yves Saint-Laurent took note of her and signed Kurková to deals. Print campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Valentino, and others helped expose Kurková even more, while she headlined the second Victoria's Secret show the following year. The constant flow of work (she is said to have worked 23 weeks straight) was recognized by Vogue as they honored her with the "Model of the Year" title at the 2002 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.
The usual contracts with top designers such as Ralph Lauren, Óscar de la Renta, Chanel and Balenciaga continued, and a recent tally put Kurková's magazine cover appearances at 80 and counting. She is revered as much in the fashion world for her personality, which is described as intense and energetic, as for her looks. This attractive attitude leaves little doubt that Kurková will emerge as a legendary supermodel; even legendary Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, called her the "next supermodel." When asked to explain Kurková's allure, David Bonnouvrier, the owner of Kurková's agency, DNA, says simply, "she's it." In this case, "it" means Kurková's "incredible dynamics." She combines "the ultimate body with incredibly fresh features and an extremely punchy attitude and energy – which comes through in all of her pictures", Bonnouvrier says. Trudi Tapscott, Vogue's bookings editor, was impressed with Kurková from the moment the magazine began working with her in the Summer of 2000. "Very feminine", are the words Tapscott uses to describe Kurková's appeal, adding that it is Kurková's "extra-special energy and enthusiasm" that sets her apart from the pack.
Battling her way out of ex-communist oppression Karolina Kurkova became the youngest model to appear on the cover of Vogue. She is the recipient of the Model of the Year Award at the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards. Karolina Kurkova resides in Manhattan.
On October 29, 2009 Karolina Kurkova gave birth to her first child, son Tobin Jack Drury.