There were three goals inside the opening 20 minutes, and the action came thick and fast for much of the game. Leeds opened the scoring in the ninth minute with an angled Robert Snodgrass free-kick from 25 yards eluding everyone in the box and finding the far corner.
Jermaine Beckford doubled their advantage from the penalty spot after 16 minutes with an excellent strike into the right corner after Paul McLaren had brought down Gary McSheffrey in the box.
Tranmere responded, and goalkeeper Casper Ankergren in the Whites goal did well to turn away a Luke O'Neill effort. But the visitors failed to clear the subsequent corner and a John Welsh shot found its way into the net through a crowd of players in the 19th minute.
Leeds restored their two-goal advantage in the 34th minute. Beckford was sent clear by Jonny Howson and his pinpoint cross was headed home in style by Luciano Becchio.
The visitors escaped penalty claims when Michael Doyle appeared to handle after 49 minutes. But they moved three goals clear in the 65th minute with an excellent lob over goalkeeper Luke Daniels by Beckford from a searching pass by Doyle.