After completing two years at the University of Michigan, she studied physics and English at Barnard College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1978.
From 1980 to 1984, Angier wrote about biology for Discover Magazine. She also worked as a science writer for Time Magazine, and was briefly an adjunct professor in New York University's Graduate Program in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. In 1990, she joined the New York Times as a science writer. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting in 1991. She was selected to be the keynote speaker for the 2009 Washington & Jefferson College Commencement exercises.
Angier lives in Takoma Park, MD, with her husband, former Washington Post science and medical reporter Rick Weiss, and their daughter. Angier is an outspoken atheist.