The first single released to promote the album was "Irish Blood, English Heart", released on 10 May 2004 and reaching No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. It also received significant airplay in the US, going to number 36 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. You Are the Quarry was released on 17 May 2004 by record label Attack. The album charted at number 2 in the UK, held off the top spot by Keane's debut album, which prompted Morrissey to joke in concert at the time, "With regard to the album You Are the Quarry, if your name is Keane then you better leave now." It became Morrissey's highest charting album in the US, reaching number 11.
Some versions of the packaging do not show the full frame on the cover, but only a crop of Morrissey's face, cropping out the machine gun.
Three more singles followed: "First of the Gang to Die" on 12 July, reaching No. 6; "Let Me Kiss You" on 11 October, reaching No. 8; and "I Have Forgiven Jesus" on 13 December, reaching No. 10. Nancy Sinatra recorded a version of "Let Me Kiss You", which was released as a single which performed well on the UK Singles Chart, prior to Morrissey's own single release of the song.
In October 2004, Attack repackaged and reissued You Are the Quarry as a two-disc deluxe edition. The second disc collected the nine B-sides from the album's first three singles, as well as music videos and live TV performances from the record, including Morrissey's live performances on American TV show The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. The original album is available with the bonus DVD, featuring the "Irish Blood, English Heart" video, song lyrics and a photo gallery.