Billy Davies' side were a goal and a player down after Tommy Smith fired Rangers ahead and Radoslaw Majewski saw red, but they hauled themselves level through David McGoldrick's fortuitous strike and defended stoutly as Rangers cranked up the pressure after the break.
QPR still look destined for a return to the top flight, sitting a handy six points clear, and although Forest missed out on equalling a club-record seventh straight league win and the chance to climb back into second, they appear well-equipped to join them.
The hosts took a 15th-minute lead when Smith collected Alejandro Faurlin's pass some 35 yards out and darted forward to the edge of the area before unleashing a stunning low curler past the outstretched hand of Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp.
Rangers talisman Adel Taarabt took centre stage eight minutes later when he skipped away from one challenge only to walk straight into another from Majewski. The Pole, with both feet off the ground, caught Taarabt high on the ankle right under the nose of referee Mark Clattenburg, who was quick to flash a straight red card.
Lesser teams may have buckled, but Forest are made of sterner stuff these days and within three minutes the 10 men had grabbed an unlikely leveller when Lewis McGugan's 30-yard free-kick deflected off McGoldrick and flew in the other direction, past the diving Rangers goalkeeper and into the net.