Neil Warnock's side went into the encounter knowing victory would seal their return to the Premier League after a 15-year absence, although they can now do so with victory over Hull at Loftus Road on Easter Monday.
For Cardiff, a draw was not really good enough for their automatic promotion ambitions and they now sit one point behind second-placed Norwich with just three matches remaining.
A blistering start, with two goals inside the opening 10 minutes, set the pattern for a pulsating afternoon.
At the heart of it was enigmatic QPR skipper Adel Taarabt, who showed why he is the Championship's player of the year with two great finishes, the second of which came in the 71st minute to cancel equally impressive first-half efforts from City's star duo Jay Bothroyd and Craig Bellamy.
R's striker Heidar Helguson had promotion within his grasp in the 89th minute, but he could only find the side-netting with the goal at his mercy.
Both sides were unchanged from their last outing and it was Bellamy who set up the first clear opening for Peter Whittingham after just three minutes, but the 10-goal midfielder failed to connect properly with his shot and Paddy Kenny saved well.
But it mattered little as Bothroyd soon broke the deadlock in stunning fashion.
The former Arsenal trainee picked up the ball on the right touchline and skipped inside a challenge before curling a delightful left-footed effort from 18 yards into the top corner off the crossbar.
But anything Bothroyd could do, Taarabt could match.
The Moroccan saw a corner returned to him on the left but an acute angle mattered little as he planted a stunning curling shot beyond the reach of Stephen Bywater and into the far corner.
Despite the pace of the opening stages slowing slightly, half chances continued to flow at either end.
And the majority of the 26,058 inside the Cardiff City Stadium were brought to their feet again in the 35th minute.
Bothroyd was allowed time to send over an inswinging cross from the right which Matthew Connolly failed to deal with, even using his hand in the process, and the ball squirmed through to Bellamy to swivel and smash past Kenny into the top corner.
Bywater preserved City's lead going into the break, producing a great diving save after Shaun Derry's shot took two deflections.
Whittingham wasted his second good chance of the afternoon shortly after the restart.
Unsurprisingly, the pace of the second half failed to match that of the first and that was reflected in the lack of clear-cut opportunities created.
But Taarabt made sure he did not waste the one which did come his way in the 71st minute, shrugging off the attentions of Kevin McNaughton to bring down Wayne Routledge's chipped forward pass and beat Bywater from just inside the area.
Bellamy was denied by Kenny but it was Helguson who passed up the best chance of victory, somehow shooting wide from close range late on.