The battle of the Championship strugglers ended level as Cardiff failed to hang on to their lead.
Darren Purse celebrates the opening goal at Ninian Park
Cardiff captain Darren Purse rose above the static Crystal defence to power a header beyond keeper Julian Speroni to give his side a ninth-minute lead.
A minute before the break, Tony Capaldi fouled Tom Soares to concede a penalty that he claimed was outside the box.
Kasper Schmeichel and Robbie Fowler tried to distract Ben Watson, but he sent keeper Schmeichel the wrong way.
The result still leaves Eagles boss Neil Warnock seeking his first win after five games in charge.
Cardiff manager Dave Jones:
"I didn't think it was a penalty, Capaldi was outside the box and the player was in front of him.
"The referee should have consulted the linesman, but he made his mind up too quickly, you have to get those decisions right.
"I felt that we were in control of the game, but the goal knocked the stuffing out of us.
"We still had chances in the second half, though. We need to keep believing and keep going.
"You can't fault the players for effort and they accept any criticism they deserved.
"I have told them they have to rise above the criticism, stay strong and do the right things."
Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock:
"I am never happy with a point, particularly on this occasion because I tried to win the game, but we are improving all the time.
"We were positive, particularly in the second half, because I would have been happy going in at half-time a goal down.
"We lacked a little depth in the final third and they had chances to nick it towards the end, but I think we deserved a point."
Cardiff: Schmeichel, McNaughton, Purse, Johnson, Capaldi, Parry (Sinclair 80), McPhail, Rae, Ledley, Fowler (Thompson 61), Hasselbaink.
Subs Not Used: Oakes, Loovens, Whittingham.
Goals: Purse 9.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Lawrence, Hudson, Fonte, Hill, Watson, Bostock (Moses 72), Songo'o (Ifill 46), Soares, Kennedy, Scowcroft (Morrison 46).
Subs Not Used: Flinders, Fletcher.
Booked: Songo'o, Lawrence, Morrison.
Goals: Watson 44 pen.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).