An inspired display from Hugo Rodallega at Molineux lifted Wigan out of the bottom three and consigned Wolves to the foot of the Premier League table.
Rodallega hooked in acrobatically from the edge of the six-yard box to put Wigan ahead as Wolves failed to clear.
The Colombian then played a delightful through ball for Tom Cleverley to slot between keeper Wayne Hennessey's legs.
Wolves pressed after the break but although substitute Steven Fletcher bundled in a late goal Wigan held on.
West Ham's lunchtime victory at Fulham resulted in these two sides slipping into the bottom two places but despite being at the foot of the table Wolves would have been confident of a third successive home win, given Wigan's recent run of only one win in 10 league games.
Martinez praises 'mature' performance
Several Wigan players featured snood and glove combinations to combat the cold, but they made by far the brighter start as the home side failed to get out of first gear.
The first example of poor Wolves defending came when Ben Watson's corner was not properly cleared and after Gary Caldwell flicked the ball back into the danger zone, Rodallega turned adroitly before firing into the bottom corner.
Rodallega then measured his pass to perfection to meet the run of on-loan Cleverley who calmly slotted into the net, as a small section of the travelling fans dressed as fluorescent bananas jumped for joy.
Wolves needed an immediate response, but Stephen Hunt could not keep his header down following a fine cross from Dave Edwards on the right flank, while Stephen Ward was convinced he was brought down in the area by Steve Gohouri only to see his penalty claims waved away by referee Mike Dean.
Indeed Rodallega might well have created a third goal for the visitors, when he collected another loose ball and almost picked out Charles N'Zogbia's run.
The Colombian playmaker also underlined his confidence by trying his luck from fully 35 yards but the shot fizzed wide.
Things were simply not running for Wolves. Even when a Nenad Milijas free-kick deflected wickedly and wrong-footed Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, the on-loan Oman shot-stopper managed to stick out a leg from a prostrate position and clear the danger.
Wolves soon introduced fit-again wideman Matt Jarvis after the break but although the home side had much more possession they created little in the way of clear-cut chances.
Rodallega might have added a third for Wigan only for a snapshot from 20 yards to go straight into the midriff of Hennessey.
McCarthy criticises ref after defeat
Finally Wolves gave themselves a late lifeline, with a Jarvis cross causing confusion in the Wigan defence and Fletcher one of four players in the old gold who could have applied the finishing touch to a goalmouth scramble six yards out.
It created a raucous finale but in truth a point would have flattered Mick McCarthy's team, who next face a trip to Liverpool on Wednesday.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.