Matty Fryatt had given Stuart Pearce’s side the lead in first-half injury-time – but either side of that he had two efforts ruled out for offside, with television replays suggesting they should have stood.
And Neil Redfearn’s side secured a point as former Forest player Billy Sharp netted emphatically from the spot in the 54th minute, after Sam Byram had been tripped by Danny Fox.
Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri produced a string of outstanding saves to hold Forest at bay as the home side pushed for a winner.
The two major incidents of the first half both involved Fryatt prodding home from close range.
In the 22nd minute, the striker found the back of the net from close range, when he deflected a Michail Antonio cross-shot beyond keeper Silvestri – only to see his effort ruled out for offside. It looked a close decision and replays suggested that it was a wrong one, as Byram looked to have played Fryatt onside.
The former Hull man was not to be denied for a second time, however, and when he forced the ball home in similar circumstances at the end of the first half, this time there was to be no intervention from the officials.
This time it was a header from Michael Mancienne that Fryatt steered into the back of the net, from close range, to give the home side the lead.
While Forest will have felt a sense of injustice at having a goal ruled out, Leeds will themselves have been scratching heir heads over how they had not scored.
In the 14th minute, Alex Mowatt saw a driven shot, from the periphery of the box, take a massive deflection that sent it spinning inches wide of the post.
Almost immediately afterwards, Mirco Antenucci’s shot was brilliantly saved by Karl Darlow, who should have been beaten when the ball rebounded to Jason Pearce, just a few yards out – but the defender skied his shot wildly over the bar.
Leeds did draw level after the break, as Danny Fox stuck out a leg to trip Sam Byram, with referee Roger East pointing to the spot. Sharp blasted the spot-kick down the middle.
This sparked Forest into life, with the home side coming close to scoring three times.
Jack Hunt shot straight at the keeper when he might have done better, Antonio forced a superb save with a driven shot and Robert Tesche sent a free header over the bar.
Then came another moment of controversy, as Fryatt had another goal chalked off for a debatable offside decision, again Forest thought the goal should have stood.
In the space of a few minutes Tesche, Henri Lansbury and Antonio were denied by outstanding stops from Silvestri, who was in inspired form.
However, Darlow had to make a strong save of his own at the other end in the closing stages, to prevent Sharp snatching all three points for the visitors.