A goal on the stroke of half-time from Michael Ballack was enough to give Chelsea all three points at Bolton.
Ballack was on hand to head Chelsea into the lead
The Germany international leapt the highest to direct Frank Lampard's corner past keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and give the Blues a deserved lead.
Jaaskelainen denied Chelsea on several occasions, making fantastic saves from Didier Drogba, Lampard and £30m-man Andriy Shevchenko.
Bolton's El Hadji Diouf went close with a shot saved low by Carlo Cudicini.
The home side's other efforts were nothing more than half-chances.
Kevin Davies, who looked a little sluggish at times, could have given Sam Allardyce's men an early lead, but headed over from six yards.
Tal Ben Haim tried his luck with a 20-yarder which went two yards wide, while Diouf also made Cudicini palm over with a testing delivery.
Chelsea, on the other hand, grew in strength as the match wore on.
They have this uncanny knack of slowly turning the screw against teams they play, while at the same time not appearing too threatening.
Bolton edged the midfield battle in the first half but always looked liable to concede whenever Jose Mourinho's side came within 25 yards of their goal. And Chelsea certainly had their shooting boots on at the Reebok.
If it was not for the brilliance of goalkeeper Jaaskelainen then the scoreline would have very embarrassing for the Trotters.
The Finn made two splendid saves from Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, showing strong hands to punch away a free-kick and two fierce strikes, while he also saved three stinging efforts from Lampard.
But despite Jaaskelainen's heroics, Chelsea's juggernaut managed to breach the final line of defence as the interval approached.
Lampard's swinging corner from the left was met and converted by the head of Germany's talisman Ballack, who found a part of the goal Jaaskelainen could not reach.
Although the Bolton ace was beaten, he was not down, and produced the finest moment of the feisty affair when he tipped over a stunning 25-yard shot from Shevchenko.
By this time the man-of-the-match award was all but his. And from Bolton's final corner he tried to put the icing on the cake by becoming a goalscoring hero, but alas, there was no fairytale ending for the Finn.
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
"They are very good at set pieces and that's the difference in terms of the result.
"In open play we limited them to shots outside the box. They scored on the stroke of half-time from a corner, which was very disappointing.
"I have to praise the players for the way they approached the second half. But our finishing let us down."
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho:
"It was always going to be a tough game at Bolton.
"We were magnificent in the first half and a 1-0 scoreline was the minimum reward we deserved for our efforts. They came back strong after the break.
"Every one of our players was a fighter. We played a complete game."
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Faye, Meite, Ben Haim, Nolan, Campo, Speed, Davies (Vaz Te 76), Anelka, Diouf.
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Giannakopoulos, Pedersen, Tal.
Booked: Campo, Faye, Nolan.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Geremi, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Essien, Makelele, Lampard, Ballack, Shevchenko (Kalou 77), Drogba (Mikel 90).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Boulahrouz, Wright-Phillips.
Goals: Ballack 45.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).