Ross McCormack's last-minute penalty ensured the honours were even in a captivating Welsh derby which saw Swansea's play-off hopes in the Coca-Cola Championship dashed after the 2-2 draw.
The visitors wasted no time in getting off the mark through Nathan Dyer as Dave Jones' promotion hopefuls struggled to cope with their bright attacks early on but Cardiff came into the game steadily and restored parity early in the second period when Michael Chopra levelled..
Teenager Joe Allen scored his first goal for Swansea with just two minutes remaining but McCormack still had time to fire in a second leveller in dubious circumstances from the penalty spot.
Mark Gower rattled a powerful shot into the midriff of Cardiff goalkeeper Stuart Taylor as Roberto Martinez's side started well in the hostile atmosphere - and they took the lead in the 11th minute.
Dyer picked the ball up on the halfway line and set off for goal. He laid the ball into the path of Jason Scotland, who coolly flicked the ball over the head of Cardiff defender Roger Johnson and back towards the run of Dyer, who skipped round Taylor and stabbed home with his left foot for a fabulous goal.
Chopra then thumped a shot against the foot of the post in Cardiff's best attack while Jay Bothroyd's follow-up was tipped around by Swansea goalkeeper Dorus De Vries.
Referee Mike Dean was then struck on the temple by an object thrown from the crowd as the half came to a close as he talked to Chopra following a challenge on Jordi Gomez.
Cardiff weathered the storm and they took advantage by equalising in the 54th minute when Jay Bothroyd laid the ball back from Paul Parry's cross for Chopra to score.
Allen was introduced with just over 20 minutes to go and hit a stunning 88th-minute strike to give Swansea a glimpse of victory.
Dean had time to provide more drama when he awarded a soft penalty in stoppage time when Ashley Williams barged into McCormack and the Scotland international kept his composure to bury the ball and claim a point.
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