Kenny Miller marked his debut with a superb goal that gave Derby their first win of the season and moved them off the bottom of the Premier League.
Miller was playing his first game for Derby
Miller hit a spectacular shot from well outside the box after Newcastle failed to clear Stephen Bywater's long ball.
Newcastle might have had two penalties as Dean Leacock twice appeared to have fouled David Rozehnal.
But Derby were worth their win and Steve Howard should have extended their lead with two headed chances.
Having lost four successive league games, the last of which saw them beaten 6-0 at Liverpool, Derby entered this game propping up the bottom of the Premier League.
But roared on by a vocal Pride Park crowd Derby produced a gritty performance, though they were initially let down by a tentative approach inside the Newcastle penalty area.
Both Tyrone Mears and Miller showed plenty of initiative to create space for themselves but were unable to seriously test Steve Harper with their final shots.
If Miller had suffered stage fright in the Newcastle box he showed a more deadly streak when the ball landed at his feet outside the area.
Newcastle failed to deal with Bywater's punt upfield and after allowing the ball to bounce Miller struck a dipping shot that was soon nestling in the Newcastle net.
By that stage Newcastle should have been ahead, notably when James Milner broke free after a Derby corner on 18 minutes.
On the edge of the penalty area Milner released Owen, who rounded Bywater, but in doing so the England striker had to take the ball away from the goal.
Owen regained his balance to cross the ball to Rozehnal, whose close-range shot went wide.
There were other nervy moments for the Derby defence and they might have conceded a penalty when Leacock looked to have held Rozehnal.
Gallingly for Newcastle, Miller's goal came immediately after that incident.
Midway through the second half Leacock appeared to foul Rozenhal for a second time, but again the infringement was missed by referee Peter Walton.
Owen was withdrawn early in the second half as a precaution to avoid aggravating a minor groin strain, with Obafemi Martins coming on for the England striker.
But the change failed to resuscitate a strangely subdued Newcastle side and Derby remained the more dangerous team in attack.
Howard missed with two very presentable headers but Miller's goal was enough to give Derby the precious three points as Newcastle slipped to their first defeat of the season.
Derby manager Billy Davies:
"We're up and running.
"We have a lot of hard work ahead, but hopefully we can kick on. We controlled the game and the chances we created were first-class.
"I'm delighted with the players and they can take a lot of confidence from this victory."
Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce:
"The sad thing is that we had 14 players away on international duty and and that looked apparent.
"Before the break we were on a roll after the Wigan win, but some of the players looked jaded.
"We had opportunities, but we didn't take them and we were beaten by a wonder goal.
"I just hope Michael's not too serious (Owen came off with a tight groin muscle).
"We don't think it will be, you can expect a little tightness with all the games he's had and particularly the two England games.
"Of course, he hasn't had that many over the last couple of years so he's getting better and sharper and fitter.
"Tonight he felt the groin and had he carried on and extended himself in any way, he might have actually pulled it.
Derby: Bywater, Mears, Leacock, Davis, Griffin, Teale, Oakley, Pearson, Lewis (McEveley 87), Howard, Miller (Feilhaber 80).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Earnshaw, Todd.
Booked: Mears, Oakley.
Goals: Miller 39.
Newcastle: Harper, Taylor (Beye 75), Cacapa, Rozehnal, N'Zogbia, Smith, Geremi (Faye 60), Butt, Milner, Owen (Martins 55), Ameobi.
Subs Not Used: Given, Pattison.
Booked: Smith, Butt, N'Zogbia.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).