Freddie Ljungberg's goal after just three minutes sealed Arsenal's place in the FA Cup semi-finals at the expense of 10-man Bolton.
Ljungberg scored from 18 yards, while El-Hadji Diouf was red carded after stupidly elbowing Jens Lehmann.
Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen made excellent saves to deny Jose Antonio Reyes, Dennis Bergkamp and Ljungberg.
Stelios Giannakopoulos twice went close with headers for Bolton, while Ljungberg missed an open goal late on.
It was a passionate and engaging Cup tie, with Kevin Davies symbolic of Bolton's energy and determination to equalise despite their numerical disadvantage.
Arsenal played the better football and carved out a succession of early openings with some brilliant one-touch passing and runs from deep.
Ljungberg raced on to Pires' superbly weighted diagonal pass for his goal, placing the ball past the advancing Jaaskelainen.
After the disappointment of their Champions League exit in midweek, and with Thierry Henry out injured, it was exactly the start Arsenal wanted.
A brilliant one-two between Reyes and Bergkamp put the Spaniard through on goal and it took a good save from Jaaskelainen to prevent Arsenal from extending their lead.
Another run from deep by Ljungberg put the Swede clear and Jaaskelainen was forced into action again.
Bolton's cause had not been helped by Diouf, whose failure to control his temper resulted in a straight red card with just eight minutes gone.
The troubled striker unquestionably elbowed Lehmann as made his way towards referee Steve Bennett to appeal for a foul - and Diouf then tangled with a succession of Arsenal players as he tried to protest his innocence.
But the striker's dismissal galvanised Bolton, who posed a constant threat form set pieces.
A long throw was flicked on at the near post and Giannakopoulos made a solid contact from six yards, but his header was directed straight at Lehmann.
Giannakopoulos tested Lehmann again later in the half with another header but the German was once more up to the task, making a diving save.
And with half-time looming it was Jaaskelainen who was the busier keeper, saving from Reyes and Bergkamp.
Bolton really took the game to Arsenal after the break, handing the Arsenal defence a stern examination of their defending from set-pieces.
Several times Arsenal struggled to clear, saved only by a fortunate bounce or deflection.
But Arsenal dominated possession as they looked for a crucial second and Reyes forced another good save from Jaaskelainen with a well-struck drive.
As the game wore on it became increasingly untidy, but Bergkamp went close with a superb free-kick that Jaaskelainen did well to save.
Giannakopoulos had one final chance for Bolton but headed over after once again making a superb run into the box.
But the most glaring miss of the match, if not the entire season, came on the stroke of full-time when Ljungberg, completely unmarked and with the goal at his mercy, hit the ball over the crossbar from six yards.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (Jaidi 68), N'Gotty, Ben Haim (Pedersen 81), Gardner, Nolan, Hierro (Candela 68), Speed, Giannakopoulos, Diouf, Davies.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Campo.Sent Off: Diouf (9).
Booked: Hunt, Davies, Nolan, Jaidi, Giannakopoulos.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Senderos, Toure, Clichy, Ljungberg, Flamini, Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp, Reyes.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Van Persie, Taylor, Fabregas, Eboue.
Booked: Reyes, Pires, Flamini, Lauren.
Goals: Ljungberg 3.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).