Cipriani was named man-of-the-match after a top-class performance
Wasps (22) 25
Tries: Reddan, Voyce, Sackey
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pens: Cipriani 2
Clermont (3) 24
Tries: Rougerie, Delasau, Etien
Cons: King 3
Wasps kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive after holding on for victory in a thrilling game at Adams Park.
The home side dominated the first half and led by the inspired Danny Cipriani, went 22-0 ahead with tries from Eoin Reddan, Tom Voyce and Paul Sackey.
Clermont regrouped and long-range tries from Aurelien Rougerie and Vilimoni Delasau set up a dramatic finale.
A late Cipriani penalty sealed victory but Emmanuel Etien's score in injury time gave Clermont a bonus point.
Although Wasps will be happy to have won the game, the players looked devastated at the final whistle after conceding a bonus point so late.
They now know that they will probably have to win their final pool game at 2006 champions Munster if they are to progress to the last eight.
It had all started out so well for the home side.
They were positive right from the outset and full-back Josh Lewsey, starting his first game since England's World Cup semi-final, made a couple of early breaks before being forced off injured on the half-hour mark.
The home side were sharper and more aggressive at the breakdown and Lawrence Dallaglio's pressure on Pierre Mignoni led to the opening try.
Voyce finished in the corner after a well-worked Wasps move
Mignoni lost possession and Reddan kicked the loose ball forward before collecting it and touching down.
But it was Cipriani who was running the show and he boosted his hopes of getting an England call-up with a sensational first-half display.
He produced a moment of sublime brilliance, kicking through at full pace after leaving the Clermont defence for dead, but Sackey could not collect the ball as he dived for it near the line.
Wasps did score soon after through Voyce when he finished off in the corner from Lewsey's pass following a fine move.
Cipriani made the score 15-0 after just 18 minutes with a penalty before delivering a superb inside pass to Sackey for a sparkling third try.
Alex King's penalty for Clermont reduced the deficit and Rougerie's length-of-the-field score after the break following Cipriani's ill-advised kick to the corner put the French side right back into the game.
The match turned nasty on the hour mark when Canadian flanker Jamie Cudmore unleashed a flurry of punches on Wasps prop Tim Payne, sparking a brawl.
Cudmore was yellow-carded but even though Clermont were down to 14 men, the French side pulled another score back when substitute Delasau jinked his way through the Wasps defence before running the length of the field for a superb individual try.
Wasps piled on the pressure and were denied what they thought should have been a penalty try when Clermont knocked on as the home side tried to feed the ball wide to a three-man overlap.
Cipriani and former Wasp King both missed penalties before Etien was bundled over with the last move of the match.
Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani:
"We are very disappointed that we did not get the bonus point. We let them in at the end and that was down to poor communication in the backs.
"We got turned a couple of times in the second half and that is not good enough but we have to be positive and if we win the next two games the results will speak for themselves."
Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards:
"We were absolutely brilliant in the first half, it was probably the best I have seen Wasps play in the six years I have been here.
"But in the second half, unfortunately we forced it too much. We lost the ball twice just as we were about to put it down over the line and at the moment we feel pretty bad that."
Wasps: Lewsey; Sackey, Waters, Flutey, Voyce; Cipriani, Reddan; Payne, Ibanez, Adams, Shaw, Skivington, Haskell, Rees, Dallaglio (capt).
Replacements: Webber, French, Birkett, Leo, McMillan, van Gisbergen, Hart.
Clermont Auvergne: Bai; Rougerie (capt), Esterhuizen, Garcia, Malzieu; King, Mignoni; Emmanuelli, Smit, Scelzo, Jacquet, Samson, Cudmore, Alexandre, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Ledesma, Shvelidze, Vigouroux, Etien, Senio, Chanal, Delasau.