It was Derby who drew first blood through Grzegorz Rasiak in the 12th minute as the big Polish striker rose at the back post to head home a pin-point Morten Bisgaard cross.
Paul Evans restored parity from the penalty shortly before the interval after referee Mike Pike adjudged Mo Konjic to have brought down the marauding Kris Commons.
Forest's new £525,000 signing Scott Dobie should have scored on his debut minutes after the restart when he broke clear only to drag his shot wide of Lee Camp's goal.
The home side did take the lead in the 69th minute as David Friio flicked on a corner and Gareth Taylor dived in bravely to connect with a header which beat Camp from ten yards.
But Derby hit back to claim a point with 12 minutes to go as Rasiak headed a Chris Makin cross powerfully past Paul Gerrard at the near post.
Forest central defender Wes Morgan could have won the game right at the death, but he headed over the crossbar from a good position with virtually the last touch of the match.