A crowd of 18,735 at the Cardiff City Stadium were witness to a toothless first half, although the game came to life after the interval, with Jon Parkin seeing his header cleared off the line while the hosts saw several good chances go begging as they went in search of a second.
The result pushed Cardiff back into the top six but left Preston without a win since October 20.
Dave Jones made four changes to his starting XI in response to last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Ipswich - a result he described as the worst since the club moved into their new stadium back in the summer.
Opposite number Alan Irvine also felt the need to introduce four new faces, which included a new-look strike partnership of Parkin and Stephen Elliott. Former Bluebird Paul Parry also returned to South Wales for the first time since swapping clubs in the summer.
Yet there was little to get excitd about during the opening 45 minutes, with Michael Chopra drilling the first half-chance wide after 11 minutes.
David Marshall was soon brought into play for the first time at the other end, tipping Parkin's fine looped effort over the crossbar.
That proved to be the closest either side came to taking a half-time lead but the lack of serious goalmouth action was hardly surprising given the fact the two teams had found the net just six times between them in each of their last four matches.
Despite the lack of conviction in the final third, both sides were seeing plenty of the ball in the middle of the park with the hosts just having the edge.
Parkin, having enjoyed the best chance of the first half, came close to handing Preston the lead just a minute after the restart when his goalbound header was cleared off the line by Kevin McNaughton.
But, against the run of play, Cardiff took the lead in the 55th minute while temporarily down to 10 men with Anthony Gerrard rceiving treatment to a facial cut.
Jay Bothroyd brought down Marshall's long kick upfield and laid the ball off to Burke, who drilled a shot into the top corner from distance.
Bothroyd himself soon forced a good save from Preston keeper Andy Lonergan before Cardiff lost the services of Gerrard, Chopra and Joe Ledley to injury in the space of seven minutes.
The visitors made a triple attacking substitution themselves in the 68th minute in search of a way back into the game but it was the hosts who came closest through Bothroyd and Paul Quinn as they threatened a second.