It was a tale of two penalties in the first half of a drab encounter on the banks of the River Trent. Robert Koren put Hull in front after 34 minutes before Billy Sharp levelled things up with his spot-kick in the 43rd minute. Paul McShane won it for the Tigers with a close-range header after 69 minutes.
Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll made two changes after seeing his side's four-game unbeaten league run come to an end with a 3-1 defeat at Ipswich on Tuesday night. James Coppinger made only his second start since joining the Reds on loan from Doncaster at the end of August, while Andy Reid also returned in midfield. Henri Lansbury and Dexter Blackstock dropped down to the bench as Forest played with Billy Sharp as a lone striker.
An injury to leading scorer Sone Aluko forced Hull boss Steve Bruce into his only change meaning a recall for Aaron Mclean.
A dull start to the game led to a first half littered with misplaced passes by both teams.
Forest had a lucky escape after 27 minutes when on-loan Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton conceded a corner when trying to head the ball back to goalkeeper Lee Camp. Corry Evans' flag-kick was headed away from underneath his own crossbar by Elliott Ward before David Meyler shot into the side-netting.
Meyler was involved in the penalty that gave Hull the lead. He was brought down inside the box by Simon Gillett and Koren sent Camp the wrong way from the spot, stroking the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Out of the blue, Forest were presented with the opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty for Alex Bruce's foul on Sharp. And the on-loan Southampton striker made no mistake from the spot, shooting powerfully into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Chris Cohen might have sent the hosts into half-time ahead, but the midfielder lacked composure and blasted over from close range after his initial flick from Reid's cross was blocked.
The game improved slightly after the break with early chances at both ends.
Adlene Guedioura, who scored a superb long-range effort against his former club Wolves last weekend to give Forest a 2-1 win at Molineux, curled a shot just wide before Ahmed Elmohamady shot straight at Camp.
Forest were dominating possession without making any telling inroads and they were made to pay midway through the second half. It was dreadful defending from O'Driscoll's side. Koren's corner was allowed all the way through a crowded penalty box and McShane had the simple task of heading in from two yards out.
Forest continued to enjoy much of the ball, with Hull seemingly content to play on the counter attack. O'Driscoll brought on Blackstock and Lewis McGugan, with Cohen and Gillett making way, but, with Forest continually frustrating with the final ball, it made no difference.
Centre-half Ward was pushed up front in the closing stages as an additional aerial threat and he almost rescued a point for Forest in injury time but his header was plucked from beneath the crossbar by Hull keeper David Stockdale.