España first represented Spain at the 2001 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where he was 11th in the short race. He won his first medal the following year at the 2002 European Athletics Indoor Championships, taking the bronze medal over 3000 m. Outdoors, he came eleventh in the 5000 m at the 2002 European Athletics Championships. He came close to another medal indoors at the 2003 IAAF World Indoor Championships, finishing a fraction of a second behind the bronze medallist Luke Kipkosgei. In 2005 he won the 3000 m gold medal at the 2005 European Cup and went on to compete at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, where he was disqualified in the heats.
At the 2006 European Championships in Athletics España gained a narrow win in the 5000 m, overtaking Mo Farah just metres from the line. This was his first major international title. He made his Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he finished 14th in the 5000 m final. In 2009 he won the 3000 m bronze at the European Indoors, a gold medal over the distance at the 2009 European Team Championships, and finished tenth in the 5000 m final at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics.
Jesús España competed at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships and came sixth, and retained his title at the 2010 European Team Championships. He attempted to defend his 5000 m title at the 2010 European Athletics Championships, but found himself beaten by Farah on this occasion, ending up with the silver medal. He ran at the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid on New Year's Eve and took third place on the podium behind Zersenay Tadese and fellow Spaniard Ayad Lamdassem. He was fifth over 3000 m at the 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships in March and won the Great Ireland Run in April.
- 1500 metres – 3:36.53 min (2002)
- 3000 metres – 7:38.26 min (2006)
- 5000 metres – 13:04.73 min (2011)
- 10,000 metres – 28:26.27 min (2012)
- Half marathon – 1:03:28 (2016)
- Marathon – 2:11:58 (2016)
- España Jesús. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-01-01.
- Valiente, Emeterio (2006-11-26). Jesús España overcomes all barriers to fulfil his dream. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-01-01.
- Valiente, Emeterio (2011-01-01). Fulfilling favourite roles, Tadese and Augusto prevail in Madrid. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-01-01.
- Martin, Dave (2011-04-10). Teenager Purdue upsets experienced rivals in Dublin 10Km. IAAF. Retrieved on 2011-04-11.
- Representing Europe