Wales lost to a solitary goal for the second game in a row as Poland moved to within a point of the World Cup finals.
Maciej Zurawski's 53rd-minute penalty separated the sides after Richard Duffy had fouled Kamil Kosowski in the box.
Rob Earnshaw and Ryan Giggs had Wales' only efforts on target, while Danny Coyne made three excellent first-half saves to deny the Poles in Warsaw.
Wales have now gone 14 games without a competitive win, and are bottom of Group Six after Azerbaijan's draw.
As expected, Wales made four changes to the side beaten by England on Saturday.
Earnshaw replaced the suspended John Hartson, while tactical changes saw Rob Edwards, James Collins and Jason Koumas in for Duffy, Rob Page and Carl Robinson.
Edwards made a slightly nervous start as he allowed the dangerous Kosowski in behind on Poland's left wing inside the first three minutes.
His low cross found Miroslaw Szymkowiak in space on the edge of the box but his curling shot was too high to trouble Wales goalkeeper Coyne.
Zurawski and Tomasz Rzasa then hit long-range efforts just wide.
Wales started to settle, with Koumas looking composed on the ball, but a quick counter attack almost caught them out.
Craig Davies flashed an effort over as Wales pressed late on
Ebi Smolarek broke down the left, cut inside the box and his low shot was fumbled by Coyne before the Burnley keeper reacted quickly to clear the danger.
Earnshaw, starting his first competitive game under manager John Toshack, then managed Wales' first shot on goal which was saved comfortably by Poland goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
Earlier, Wales had produced their best move of the half to release Edwards down the right, but his cross was too long for Earnshaw and was cleared for a corner.
Edwards, who had struggled to contain Kosowski, was replaced by Duffy for the second half.
The Coventry defender made a great first tackle on the left winger, but his second challenge conceded the penalty which Zurawski blasted down the middle to give Poland a deserved lead.
Wales had been in a promising attacking position before a slack pass from Giggs allowed Poland to counter.
Coyne made a superb reaction save on the hour mark from Grzegorz Rasiak after neat forward inter-play. but Wales continued to enjoy some success going forward.
A Davies cross reached Sam Ricketts on the far post but his header went just over.
Poland looked content on protecting their lead in the final 20 minutes as their fans started to celebrate a likely place in Germany next summer.
But there were a few nervous moments in the closing stages as Giggs warmed the keeper's hands with a long-range free-kick and a little more composure could have seen substitute Craig Davies spoiling the Warsaw party.
Poland: Boruc, Jop, Rzasa, Baszczynski, Kosowski (Radomski 78), Bak, Sobolewski, Smolarek (Zewlakow 85), Zurawski, Szymkowiak, Rasiak (Frankowski 65).
Subs Not Used: Kowalewski, Mila, Niedzielan, Klos.
Goals: Zurawski 53 pen.
Wales: Coyne, Edwards (Duffy 45), Gabbidon, James Collins, Ricketts, Simon Davies, Koumas (Craig Davies 68), Fletcher, Partridge, Giggs, Earnshaw (Ledley 80).
Subs Not Used: Price, Roberts, Page, Robinson.
Ref: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark).