Leeds were effectively relegated after Mark Viduka was sent off and Bolton eased to victory.
Viduka gave Leeds the lead and a lifeline when he scored a penalty, but was then booked twice before half-time.
Bolton took advantage and Youri Djorkaeff levelled with an individual strike and gave his side the lead when he slotted home a rebound.
Leeds' self-destruction was complete when Ian Harte scored an own goal before Kevin Nolan added a fourth.
Though Leeds' survival is not mathematically impossible, they are now six points adrift of Manchester City with two games remaining and a massively inferior goal difference.
The victory, which was essential for the Yorkshire side, began to look possible when Emerson Thome misjudged a huge Paul Robinson goalkick.
The Bolton defender bundled Alan Smith over as he tried to atone for his error and conceded a penalty in the process.
27 mins: Viduka scores from the spot
33 mins: Viduka is dismissed after two bookings
47 mins: Djorkaeff levels
53 mins: Djorkaeff puts Bolton ahead
55 mins: Harte puts through his own net
78 mins: Nolan bags a fourth
The decision appeared harsh, but Viduka coolly slotted home to put Leeds ahead entirely against the run of play.
By then, Leeds had almost buckled under intense pressure with Michael Duberry and Dominic Matteo both making goalline clearances.
But any chance Leeds had of holding their lead disappeared as tempers began to rise and Viduka was the antagonist.
After being booked for kicking Thome, Viduka then flung an arm in Bruno N'Gotty's face and was shown his second yellow card.
Bolton came out after the break determined to make their advantage pay.
And they didn't have to wait long for Djorkaeff to put them level, firing home from an acute angle.
The France international scored his second just six minutes later, when he hammered home a rebound and drove a nail into Leeds' coffin.
Any ideas Leeds had of a comeback were short-lived as Harte could only watch as a cross bounced off his knee and into his own net.
Further misery was to come for Leeds when Nolan rounded off the scoring.
It could have been an even heavier defeat for Leeds as a rampant Bolton dominated proceedings, inspired by a superb display from Jay-Jay Okocha.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Thome (Barness 38), N'Gotty, Charlton, Nolan, Campo, Okocha, Pedersen (Javi Moreno 69), Djorkaeff, Davies (Giannakopoulos 84).
Subs Not Used: Poole, Frandsen.
Booked: Thome, Hunt, Davies.
Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Caldwell, Harte, Pennant, McPhail, Matteo, Milner (Wilcox 60), Viduka, Smith.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Barmby, Lennon, Kilgallon.
Sent Off: Viduka (33).
Booked: Viduka, Pennant.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).