Alekperov was born in Baku, one of the earliest centers of the international petroleum industry. His father, who died when Vagit was a boy, worked in the oilfields all his life and inspired Alekperov to follow in his footsteps. Alekperov's father was a Muslim and his mother, Russian Orthodox. Alekperov is religious, but does not define himself as either Muslim or Orthodox. He was eighteen when he landed his first job in the industry.
Alekperov graduated in 1974 from Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute. As a student he also worked as a drilling operator in Kaspmorneft, a Caspian regional production company.
After graduation, he continued to work there, and by 1979 he had advanced from engineer to deputy head of a production unit. He had to work in extreme conditions on oil platforms. On one occasion, an explosion on his rig threw him into the stormy Caspian sea, and he had to swim for his life.
Alekperov moved to Western Siberia in 1979 and worked at Surgutneftegaz between 1979 and 1985, earning his reputation as an industry expert. He was ascending positions and by 1985 became first deputy general director of Bashneft production company. In 1987, he became general director of the newly created production company Kogalymneftegaz.
In 1990, Alekperov was appointed deputy minister of the Oil and Gas Industry of the Soviet Union and became the youngest deputy energy minister in Soviet history. At that time, Alekperov promoted the establishment of vertically integrated state-owned energy companies, which would bring together the wide range of organizations in the energy sector that were, at the time, reporting to different Soviet bureaucratic institutions.
As deputy minister of the oil and gas industry of the Soviet Union, Alekperov was engaged in the formation of the first vertically integrated state-owned energy company, Langepas-Uray-Kogalymneft, which was established in late 1991 as a subsidiary of the Ministry of Fuel and Energy. In April 1993, Langepas-Uray-Kogalymneft became LUKoil Oil Company, with Alekperov as its president.
Alekperov has remained president of LUKoil since that time. Employing more than 100,000 people, today LUKoil is among the world's most powerful oil companies, with reserves second only to Exxon.
LUKoil has been the first Russian company to acquire an American company. In November 2000, LUKoil acquired Getty Petroleum Marketing and its 1,300 gas stations in the United States Like many other Russian oligarchs, Alekperov has also moved into banking and media. In May 2006 Alekperov was one of the two main owners of IFD Kapital Group.
Alekperov is married to Larisa Victorovna Alekperova and has a son Yusuf born in 1990.