At club level, Cristiane has played professionally in France, Germany, Sweden, the United States, Russia and South Korea, as well as in her native Brazil.
Cristiane started her career at the local football clubs São Bernardo and Clube Atlético Juventus in São Paulo. At the age of 15, she debuted for the Brazil Under-19 team and took part in both the 2002 U-19 Women's World Championship in Canada and the 2004 U-19 Women's World Championship in Thailand; Brazil finished fourth in both tournaments. In 2003, Cristiane scored one goal during one appearance as a substitute, when Brazil successfully defended their title at the Sudamericano Femenino. She was also part of the squad for the 2003 Women's World Cup, appearing as a substitute in all four of Brazil's matches.
Cristiane had her international breakthrough at the Olympic football tournament in Athens 2004. Brazil reached the final, which they lost to the United States, but still achieved their biggest international success until then, by winning the Olympic silver medal. With five goals, Cristiane was honored as the tournament’s top scorer along with Germany's Birgit Prinz.
In February 2005, Cristiane transferred from Atlético Juventus to the German women's Bundesliga club 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. During the 2005–06 season she won the Bundesliga title and the German cup competition with Potsdam, although she was often used as a substitute and had difficulties to adjust to the physical play in Germany. In the following season she was transferred to the league rival VfL Wolfsburg, where she scored seven goals during the 2006–07 season, but her problems to adapt to the style of play in Germany continued. In August 2007, Cristiane did not renew her contract in Wolfsburg and returned to Brazil to support the newly created Brazilian cup competition, the Copa do Brasil de Futebol Feminino.
Cristiane was the top scorer at the 2006 Sudamericano Femenino with 12 goals, even though Brazil competed with a weakened team and only finished second behind Argentina for the first time after four consecutive title defenses. In 2007, she scored eight goals at the Pan American Games, hosted by Brazil. In the final, the Brazilian national team defeated the United States Under-20 squad before a crowd of 68,000 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
At the 2007 Women's World Cup Cristiane was voted the third-best player of the tournament. She scored five goals and she was the second best scorer of her team next to her strike partner, Marta. She was involved in a collision that resulted in a controversial red card for Shannon Boxx of the United States in the semifinal. Brazil reached the Women's World Cup final for the first time which they lost to defending champions Germany. Cristiane came in third for the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year award.
In February 2008, she signed a five-month contract until the Summer Olympics with the Swedish Damallsvenskan club Linköpings FC.
On August 21, 2008 in the Beijing Olympics, Cristiane was substituted in what looked like a repeat of the 2004 Olympics Women's Football final in that Brazil once again lost to the USA team in the final to end up with the silver. The match ended 1–0 after extra time. For the second straight Olympics, she scored 5 goals and was the tournament's leading scorer; unlike the 2004 tournament, Cristiane was the outright leading scorer.
On August 28, 2008, Cristiane joined Corinthians to play in Campeonato Paulista. On August 30, 2008, during her debut as a Corinthians player, she scored her first goal for the club, helping her team beat São José 3–1 for the Campeonato Paulista.
On September 24, 2008, the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) rights to Cristiane were acquired by the Chicago Red Stars at the inaugural International Draft. Cristiane completed her move to the Red Stars on February 27, 2009. On July 12, 2009, Cristiane scored the first hat-trick in WPS history, leading the Chicago Red Stars to a 3–1 victory against FC Gold Pride. She finished as the team top scorer with seven goals and was named to the league All-Star team.
She returned to Chicago for the 2010 season, but showed less impressive form and was made a free agent after only scoring three goals in 24 appearances. Chicago Red Stars suspended operations shortly afterwards and Cristiane decided to play the 2011 season in Brazil.
Cristiane signed a three-month loan contract with Santos on August 14, 2009 to play in the Copa Libertadores. She helped her club win both competitions, and scored a goal in the Copa do Brasil final.
In September 2011 she joined Russian Champions League contestant WFC Rossiyanka. A year later she moved to São José Esporte Clube of São José dos Campos, Brazil. Early in 2013 it was announced that Cristiane would join the Goyang Daekyo Noonnoppi WFC (Daekyo Kangaroos) in South Korea´s WK-League. She quit South Korea shortly afterwards, in order to join Centro Olímpico in Brazil.
In August 2015 Cristiane and compatriot Érika made a double transfer to French UEFA Women's Champions League contenders Paris Saint-Germain Féminines. Paris coach Farid Benstiti already knew Cristiane, having been her boss at Rossiyanka.
In July 2017, Cristiane joined Changchun Zhuoyue on a transfer from Paris Saint-Germain Féminines.Santos
Copa Libertadores: 2009
Copa do Brasil: 2009
1. FFC Turbine Potsdam
Runner-up at the Women's World Cup: 2007
Gold medal at the Pan American Games: 2007, 2015
Silver medal at the Summer Olympics: 2004 and 2008
Sudamericano Femenino: 2003
2014 Copa América Femenina Ecuador – Champion
2014 Copa América Femenina Ecuador – Top Scorer (6 goals)
Third place FIFA World Player of the Year award: 2007, 2008
Third-best player at the Women's World Cup: 2007
Top scorer at the Copa Libertadores Femenina: 2009, 2012
Top scorer at the Sudamericano Femenino: 2006
Top scorer at the Summer Olympics history: 14 goals
Top scorer at the Summer Olympics: 2004 (where Brazil lost 1–2 to eventual Gold winners USA) and 2008 (Brazil lost 0–1 to USA in the final).
Has scored 2 hat tricks in Olympic play, including the fastest in Olympic history. Cristiane, Birgit Prinz and Christine Sinclair are the only three women to have ever scored a hat trick in the Olympics.