Britain's Kelly Sotherton had to settle for fifth spot in the heptathlon at the Worlds as Carolina Kluft took gold.
A determined Sotherton set a lifetime best in the final event - the 800m - but she could not claw back Ghana's Margaret Simpson who took bronze.
Kluft held a slender lead over Eunice Barber, who needed to beat the Swede by just over a second to snatch victory.
But the Olympic champion stormed past Barber to become the first woman to defend a heptathlon world title.
"It was a great competition and Eunice is a fantastic competitor," Kluft told BBC Sport.
"It was really tough after my accident on Friday but I will take even more experience from that for the future.
"I really had to fight, keep my mind positive and I never gave up."
Kluft and Barber engaged in a riveting game of cat and mouse for gold throughout the two-day competition.
The Frenchwoman edged the Swede by just two points after day one with three disciplines left to contest.
But Kluft went into the lead for the first time after landing a season's best jump of 6.87m in the long jump.
The 22-year-old stayed ahead by 18 points after the javelin, throwing a season's best 47.20m, just short of Barber's best effort of 48.24m.
Barber broke away from Kluft in the 800m but Kluft reeled her in to take second spot in two minutes 08.89 seconds and finish on 6887 points.
It was the javelin - her weakest event - that saw Sotherton's hopes of matching her Olympic bronze unravel.
The 28-year-old went into the final day in third place after satisfactory performances in the 100m hurdles, shot put, 200m and high jump.
The Briton landed 6.41m in the long jump to stay in bronze but could only manage 33.09m in the javelin and slid down to fifth.
She showed her fighting spirit by winning the 800m in 2:07.96 - a personal best - but it was not enough to get beyond Ghana's Simpson and Austra Skujyte in the standings.
"I need to go home and work harder," said the 28-year-old Olympic bronze medallist from the Isle of Wight.
"I'm bitterly disappointed and I haven't performed particularly well. I had a lack of technical expertise but there's no excuse to perform so poorly.
"I can't take my technical ability for granted but it is a massive learning curve for me and the expectations are so much higher after last year, particularly from myself."