Robert Huth scored a late equaliser to earn Middlesbrough a point and deny Kevin Keegan his first victory since his return as Newcastle manager.
Huth's late header was his first goal of the season for Boro
Michael Owen, who had an early effort harshly disallowed for a foul on keeper Mark Schwarzer, put Newcastle ahead with a header from an Emre free-kick.
But Huth's looping header from Julio Arca's deep cross snatched a draw.
Stewart Downing then hit the post and Jeremie Aliadiere converted the rebound but it was ruled out for offside.
It was a marginal decision after Downing struck a superb free-kick that had Shay Given stranded.
Had the goal been allowed to stand it would have completed a miserable and very quick turn of fortune for the Magpies manager.
Keegan appeared to be heading for his first three points since his dramatic return to Tyneside but Boro's improved second-half performance probably merited a draw.
The result extends Boro's unbeaten run to six games in all competitions and continues the trend of every north-east Premier League derby this season ending in a draw.
The game could have unfolded very differently had referee Mike Dean not ruled out Owen's strike after four minutes.
There seemed to be very little contact between Owen and Schwarzer as they jumped for a corner and the fact that the keeper dropped the ball appeared to be nothing more than the consequence of an awful goalkeeping error.
Owen pounced, stabbing the ball home from a couple of yards, but Dean ensured his joy was short lived.
Owen had the ball in the net again with 20 minutes gone but Emre's corner has swerved out of play before it reached the striker.
Newcastle, with just one goal in their previous six games, were undoubtedly the more ambitious team in the first-half, with Boro packing the midfield in an attempt to stifle their opponents.
Owen had not scored in his previous nine Premier League games
The Magpies had Joey Barton, making his first appearance of 2008, and Emre back in the side but Boro's tactics proved effective and the home team often seemed starved of both ideas and movement.
The closest they came to a goal in the remainder of the opening half was in the form of a penalty appeal after David Wheater appealed to handle the ball, but again Dean ruled against the home team.
Boro created the first opening after the break, but Gary O'Neil's shot was blocked.
Shay Given then made a double save from Stewart Downing and O'Neil as Boro finally tried to take the game to Newcastle.
Some superb threaded passes from Fabio Rochemback and Julio Arca started to stretch the Magpies defence - but it was Newcastle who took the lead.
Owen had not scored a Premier League goal since 22 October - a total of nine games - but he climbed superbly to convert Emre's teasing free-kick and end his top-flight drought.
It was the first goal since Keegan's return and the manager then revealed his attacking instincts by introducing James Milner and, minutes later, Mark Viduka.
But it was Boro who should have struck next, O'Neil turning Claudio Cacapa inside and outside before shooting low across goal but agonisingly wide.
Cacapa later made a brilliant covering tackle with Aliadiere lurking after Given had parried a Wheater shot.
Newcastle might have secured the points but Milner and Owen scuffed openings - and the home team were punished when Huth struck.
Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan:
"We never dominated but looked the most likely to create chances.
"In the last 10-15 minutes it turned into a real derby match and I think we deserved the three points.
"I think Middlesbrough were fortunate with their goal, Huth was offside, but when you're in a bad run you do not get those kind of decisions."
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
"I think a point was the minimum that we deserved.
"The first-half we tried to frustrate them and we then tried to be more positive after the break - we created any number of chances.
"I never felt we were out of it. The last half hour was end to end, it was like playground football."
Newcastle: Given, Carr, Taylor, Cacapa, N'Zogbia, Duff, Barton, Butt, Emre (Milner 65), Owen, Smith (Viduka 66).
Subs Not Used: Forster, Ameobi, Edgar.
Goals: Owen 60.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Rochemback (Johnson 80), Cattermole (Lee 71), Arca, Downing, Aliadiere.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Boateng, Grounds.
Booked: Wheater, Aliadiere, Rochemback, O'Neil.
Goals: Huth 87.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing 6.51 (on 90 minutes). Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.