Leicester and Bolton could not be separated following a six-goal first half, but Lloyd Dyer and Gary Taylor-Fletcher provided the decisive moments in the final 15 minutes.
Those goals saved the blushes of Foxes striker David Nugent who only a minute before Dyer's strike had seen a penalty saved by Andy Lonergan.
A high-octane start saw Bolton quickly recover from conceding a fifth-minute Danny Drinkwater opener to lead through goals from Andre Moritz (15) and Jermain Beckford (20).
There was more entertainment to come just before half-time with three goals in four minutes to send the teams into the break at 3-3.
Moritz scored his second in between a close-range Anthony Knockaert finish and a Tim Ream own goal.
Derby climbed up to second as they immediately got back to winning ways 2-1 at Barnsley.
The Rams had won seven on the spin before a 1-1 Boxing Day draw with Huddersfield, but a Chris Martin double ensured they could afford to concede a Tomasz Cywka thunderbolt after the break.
Burnley dropped out of the automatic promotion places with a dull goalless draw at Wigan, with fourth-placed QPR also having to be content with a stalemate against Watford at Vicarage Road.
Matt Derbyshire netted an 84th-minute winner just moments after Ross McCormack cancelled out Greg Halford's back-post header.
Ipswich profited on Leeds' slip to move ahead them as Mick McCarthy's side ensured an unbeaten December schedule with a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.
Town had led when Daryl Murphy tapped in at the back post on 59 minutes, but Brett Pittman was in the right place to turn in when Dean Gerken spilled a shot.
Huddersfield ended a four-game winless run in emphatic style as they beat Yeovil 5-1.
The Glovers had led through a scrappy Ishmail Miller goal but Adam Clayton, Martin Paterson and Joel Lynch all replied before half-time.
Danny Ward's double after the break sealed victory for a Huddersfield side that had scored just twice in their recent winless run.
Lee Novak scored twice as Birmingham survived a Blackburn rally to win 3-2 at Ewood Park.
Novak had his brace after 18 minutes and Chris Burke added another on 36 minutes. Jordan Rhodes netted his fourth double of the season but he was unable to complete the comeback on his own.
Grant Leadbitter scored twice as Middlesbrough thumped Reading 3-0.
Albert Adomah scored first on 12 minutes with Leadbitter twice getting his name on the scoresheet either side of Kaspars Gorkss seeing red.
The Owls were caught out by a long throw for Dale Stephens' 47th-minute opener but Connor Wickham replied on the break.
Millwall began life after Steve Lomas, sacked on Boxing Day, with a goalless draw at fellow strugglers Doncaster.