Luton rode their luck, survived relentless Rochdale pressure and a 75th minute red card for striker Danny Hylton to somehow leave the Crown Oil Arena with a very hard-earned point.
The Hatters were second best for much of the contest and only a series of stunning saves from James Shea kept the score goalless at half time.
Town tightened up in the second half and boss Nathan Jones made some positive substitutions before the hour, bringing on Harrry Cornick and Kazenga LuaLua for Elliot Lee and Andrew Shinnie.
But any hopes of nicking something evaporated when Hylton was dismissed for a fourth time in Town colours, after a challenge on Ian Henderson, deemed dangerous by referee Ollie Yates.
Luton, however, maintained their stubborn resistance even if that did need a little help from the crossbar when substitute Zach Clough clattered it late on.
Jones named an unchanged side from the 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon last week and his men started quickly with an early Jack Stacey burst down the right. The right back's cross was poked wide by Hylton and, for a period, it was an open, box-to-box battle.
But quite what Dale are doing in the bottom half of the table is anyone's guess as they asserted their dominance once former Hatters Henderson got through on goal only for Shea to make his first telling contribution, standing tall to block.
He was again called into action with an instinctive outstretched leg that kept out Bradden Inman after Rochdale cut Town open with speed and purpose on the counter. Jordan Williams headed the rebound harmlessly wide.
With the Hatters fully under the cosh by the 23rd minute, there was a desperate scramble after Shea had twice saved superbly, again with his feet, to keep out close range efforts.
The stopper almost undid his outstanding efforts, overdoing the footwork, letting the ball run away from him and having to make a last-ditch tackle to stop Inman.
And then, to finish his none-shall-pass performance, Shea saw his side into the half time break by palming away Inman's straight drive, while Sonny Bradley blocked the follow up.
Dale carried on regardless from the restart with the centre back required to block Henderson after he'd nipped past three Hatters, while Stephen Dooley blasted over and Matthew Done hit the side-netting.
Substitute LuaLua saw shot from distance easily dealt with by Brendan Moore, while James Collins - who had to feed off scraps and was later withdrawn after a touchline tussle with Henderson - blasted wide from 20 yards. It was Town's last sight of goal.
Before that, Henderson shot through Luton legs but Shea was well-placed, while another former Hatter, Calvin Andrew, shanked well wide after coming off the bench.
Things got worse for Town when Hylton saw red for a foul on Henderson, leaving them 15 minutes to hang on.
They did, but only by virtue of the woodwork, ensuring a third clean sheet in four games and seventh of the season in all competitions.
Rochdale: Moore, Rafferty, Delaney, McGahey, Dooley, Camps, Williams (Andrew, 59), Done, Inman (Clough, 70), Hart, Henderson
Subs not users: Lillie, Williams, Perkins, Adshead, Yonsian
Luton: Shea, Justin, Bradley, Pearson, Stacey, Hylton, Lee (LuaLua, 55), Shinnie (Cornick, 55), Rea, Mpanzu, Collins (Sheehan, 78)
Subs not used: McCormack, Jarvis, Jones, Isted
Referee: Olllie Yates
Attendance: 3,689 (858)