The Reds from Queensland shocked the Crusaders in Brisbane with four try 41-20 thumping which ended a run of 11 defeats for the Reds.
The Reds claimed a four-try bonus point victory to break an 11-year drought against the faltering seven-time Super rugby champions.
Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper was the Reds' hero with 31 points from two tries, three conversions and five penalty goals.
The Crusaders, sorely missing the leadership of All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, suffered their worst defeat in six years since crashing out 43-19 to the New South Wales Waratahs at home.
It was the Reds' first victory over the Crusaders since their 36-23 win in Christchurch in 1999 and their first at home since 1998.
The champion New Zealanders turned in one of the worst performances in years, conceding 24 turnovers, 17 handling errors and missing 23 tackles.
"We came over here with high hopes, but we just weren't there," lamented Crusaders' skipper Kieran Read.
"We just gave away too many penalties and dropped too much ball."
But it was a magical night for the much-maligned Reds, who have been the worst performing Australian province for the last three Super 14 seasons, and an early indication of better times ahead under new coach Ewen McKenzie.
The Reds, with Cooper and scrum-half Will Genia in sparkling form, led 14-6 at halftime after Cooper started and finished a try in the 36th-minute.
The Reds gradually pulled away from the misfiring Crusaders with winger Digby Ioane charging on to a grubber kick from centre Anthony Faingaa and racing away for a try and a 27-6 lead in the 57th minute.
The Crusaders got back to 27-13 with a converted try to scrum-half Andrew Ellis in the 62nd minute, but the Reds pulled away again with another runaway try to speedster Rod Davies minutes later.
The Reds sealed victory when Cooper picked up a dropped Ellis pass and strolled over for his team's fourth try and a scoring bonus point six minutes from time.
The Crusaders gained a consolation try from All Black lock Brad Thorn in the final minute with Dan Carter converting.
Queensland's triumph was tempered by the likely long-term loss of skipper and Wallaby lock James Horwill with suspected damaged knee ligaments.
"It's an awesome result and there was a lot of talk whether we could back up after last week (30-28 loss to the Waratahs) so it's nice to shut a few people up," said Horwill, who feared he faces a long stint on the sidelines.
"It doesn't look real good, I'll have a scan but I think I might have done a few ligaments in my knee."
Final score Reds 41 Crusaders 20
Tries - Q. Cooper 2, Digby Ioane ,Rod Davies
Pen - Q. Cooper 5
Con - Q. Cooper 3
Cards - Adam Byrnes (60) Yellow
Tries - Ellis, Brad Thorn
Pen - D. Carter 2
Con - D. Carter
Cards - Ben Franks (23) Yellow
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
Ass. refs: Steve Walsh (Aus), Damian Mitchelmore (Aus)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Aus)
Reds:Peter Hynes (GPS), Digby Ioane (Sunnybank), Morgan Turinui (Sunshine Coast), Anthony Faingaa (Souths), Rod Davies (GPS), Quade Cooper (Souths), Will Genia (Norths), Scott Higginbotham (Wests), Daniel Braid (Sunshine Coast), Jake Schatz (Sunnybank), James Horwill (University), Adam Byrnes (University), Laurie Weeks (University), Saia Faingaa (Souths), Ben Daley (Gold Coast).
Reserves: James Hanson (University), Greg Holmes (Sunnybank), Robert Simmons (Sunnybank), Leroy Houston (Sunnybank), Richard Kingi (Sunnybank), Tim Walsh (club TBC) Will Chambers (club TBC)
Crusaders :1. Ben Franks , 2. Ti'i Paulo , 3. Owen Franks , 4. Sam Whitelock , 5. Isaac Ross , 6. Kieran Read (c) , 7. George Whitelock , 8. Thomas Waldrom , 9. Andy Ellis , 10. Dan Carter , 11. Zac Guildford , 12. Tim Bateman , 13. Robbie Fruean , 14. Jared Payne , 15. Colin Slade
Reserves :16. Quentin MacDonald , 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Brad Thorn , 19. Jonathan Poff , 20. Kahn Fotuali'i , 21. Adam Whitelock , 22. Sean Maitland