Skipper Clint Hill kept QPR's unbeaten Championship record intact and inflicted Leeds' first defeat of the season in a largely drab contest at Elland Road.
Hill struck in the 75th minute but Harry Redknapp's men rarely showed the adventure expected of a side touted as favourites for promotion.
Yet it was good enough to secure a third league win from four matches this term.
Joey Barton, who endured persistent taunts from the Leeds crowd, had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside in the ninth minute.
The former Manchester City, Newcastle and Marseille midfielder ventured into the penalty box and expertly stroked the ball past former QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny from Gary O'Neill's astute pass, only for the referee's assistant to raise his flag for offside.
Televised replays showed Leeds defenders Lee Peltier and Scott Wootton playing Barton onside despite half-hearted protests from the visitors at the time.
Leeds had a penalty claim of their own rejected seven minutes after the break when Ross McCormack's driven cross struck defender Danny Simpson's arm just inside the box.
Rangers purged the memory of their home Capital One Cup defeat by Swindon in midweek but they had plenty of defending to do, with Leeds' top scorer McCormack looking to celebrate his new four-year contract and a recall to the Scotland squad.
Goalkeeper Robert Green dealt capably with a series of Leeds corners but Rangers broke out of their shell as the interval approached.
Kenny did well to pluck the ball off Barton's head inside the six yard box and was then relieved to see Shaun Wright-Phillips drag a shot tamely wide after the lively winger had escaped Luke Murphy's attention.