Billy Davies' side were a goal and a player down after Tommy Smith fired Rangers ahead and Radoslaw Majewski saw red.
But they hauled themselves level through David McGoldrick's fortuitous strike and defended stoutly as Rangers cranked up the pressure after the break.
QPR still look destined for a return to the top flight, sitting a handy six points clear, and although Forest missed out on equalling a club-record seventh straight league win and the chance to climb back into second, they appear well-equipped to join them.
The match, between two of the original members of the Premier League, almost got off to an explosive start after just 16 seconds when Marcus Tudgay drove against the inside of the post, but the striker had been flagged offside.
But the hosts took a 15th-minute lead when Smith collected Alejandro Faurlin's pass some 35 yards out and darted forward to the edge of the area before unleashing a stunning low curler past the outstretched hand of Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp.
Rangers talisman Adel Taarabt took centre stage eight minutes later when he skipped away from one challenge only to walk straight into another from Majewski.
The Pole, with both feet off the ground, caught Taarabt high on the ankle right under the nose of referee Mark Clattenburg, who was quick to flash a straight red card.
Lesser teams may have buckled but Forest are made of sterner stuff these days, and within three minutes the 10 men had grabbed an unlikely leveller.
Lewis McGugan's 30-yard free-kick was heading towards the advertising hoardings to the left of Paddy Kenny's goal until it hit McGoldrick and flew in the other direction, past the diving Rangers goalkeeper and into the net.
And moments later the visitors almost took the lead when Wes Morgan met Chris Cohen's corner with a powerful downward header which Kenny just managed to divert round the post.
Taarabt tried to conjure up another of his trademark long-range strikes before the interval but his audacious effort with the outside of his right boot bounced wide.
It was one-way traffic in the second half with Faurlin driving narrowly wide, Bradley Orr seeing his header cleared off the line by Chris Gunter and Petter Vaagan Moen flashing a header past the post in stoppage time, but Rangers could not force a winner.
Clattenburg also waved away the hosts' strong appeals for a penalty when Wayne Routledge tumbled under Gunter's challenge.
Fourth official Peter Walton certainly earned his corn, standing between Davies and the equally forthright Neil Warnock as the tackles flew in.
And if all goes to plan, the colourful duo could be back snarling on Premier League touchlines again next season.