Reading came back from a goal down to condemn Wigan to a club record eighth consecutive league defeat.
Leroy Lita and Ivar Ingimarsson celebrate Reading's equaliser
Wigan took the lead after three minutes when Emile Heskey raced clear to volley home and they could have had a second when Caleb Folan hit the bar.
But Ivar Ingimarsson drew the hosts level with a close-range header before Shane Long headed home from a yard out.
Leroy Lita poached from close range to seal the win late on before Denny Landzaat grabbed a consolation goal.
Both sides had been active in the transfer market in the run up to the game with Wigan recruiting striker Julius Aghahowa and Reading adding Greg Halford to their ranks.
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And Aghahowa will be needed to plug the gaps left in attack by Heskey and Lee McCulloch who both limped off the field nursing injuries.
But the visitors flew out of the traps and dictated much of the opening exchanges as they aimed to stabilise their awful run of defeats.
Reading were given an early warning sign of Wigan's intent when McCulloch dragged a decent chance just wide, and the Royals failed to heed that caution when Heskey struck after just three minutes.
It was a crunching half-volley on his weaker left foot that caught out Marcus Hahnemann at his near post after the striker had latched on to Josip Skoko's hopeful punt.
Minutes later, debutant Folan was denied his first Latics goal when his sublime volley thudded against the bar from Ryan Taylor's long throw.
The visitors' endeavour and work rate justified their early lead although Reading spurned two clear chances to level.
The first came via a Lita header that should have bulged the Wigan net. A deep looping cross from Glen Little presented the 21-year-old striker with a glorious chance to equalise, but he nodded wide from five yards.
The second was gifted to the Royals by a Chris Kirkland error. The hapless England goalkeeper dropped a routine cross at the feet of Steven Sidwell who somehow poked his effort wide with an open net at his mercy.
But after negotiating Wigan's bright start, Reading drew level as Ingimarsson headed home Lita's hopeful flick from close range. Kirkland's parry only diverted the ball into the Iceland defender's path who out-jumped Emmerson Boyce to level.
From there on in, Reading took charge and pegged Wigan back in their own half for much of the second period.
Had Folan shown more conviction after latching on to Leighton Baines' cross shortly after the break, the outcome of the game may have been different. But it wasn't long before Reading deservedly moved ahead.
The impressive Hunt showed exquisite poise and calm under pressure to loop a hanging pass to the back post for Long to bundle home his header.
Heskey, Wigan's most potent threat, was withdrawn with a calf injury and soon after, McCulloch followed his strike partner down the tunnel also with a knock.
And with all of boss Paul Jewell's attacking options used up, Wigan faltered to the finish and offered precious little threat to Hahnemann's goal.
Had substitute Dave Kitson kept his cool on 82 minutes, Reading would have had a third, but the luckless striker blasted over the bar when clean through.
But Lita did eventually put the game safe when he poked home a loose ball after Kitson's brave header looped up off the on-rushing Kirkland.
Landzaat stole a late consolation after turning home Hahnemann's spill from Ryan Taylor's free-kick, but it was too late to start a comeback.
Reading manager Steve Coppell:
"We got off to a sticky start, Wigan played some good football and at one stage I thought we were lucky to be only one goal down.
"But the desire to go forward was making an impression and it was a relief to get the equaliser.
"We are very grateful to get the three points after a hard-fought match, it was very, very close."
Wigan manager Paul Jewell:
"I am disappointed because I felt we were miles the better side in the first half. We just gave away too many silly schoolboy errors.
"The third goal killed us really and it was definitely offside.
"We have got to cut out the silly errors at the back, they are driving me up the wall. Reading weren't made to work for any of their goals."
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt, Lita, Long (Kitson 80).
Subs Not Used: Federici, Oster, De la Cruz, Pearce.
Goals: Ingimarsson 31, Long 51, Lita 88.
Wigan: Kirkland, Taylor, Boyce, Unsworth (Jackson 69), Baines, Valencia, Landzaat, Skoko, Folan, Heskey (Kilbane 58), McCulloch (Johansson 65).
Subs Not Used: Filan, Granqvist.
Goals: Heskey 3, Landzaat 90.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).