The inmate reportedly found his way onto the roof of a building at the prison – formerly Armley Jail – at about 2pm.
He was subsequently spotted sitting on the top of a 50ft-high perimeter wall near the end of Elsworth Street.
Pictures show the dark-haired man wearing a white T-shirt, blue trousers and brown boots. His left arm appeared to be bloodied.
Police were called to the scene and cordoned off an area around the prison.
A crowd of about 30 bystanders also gathered as the incident unfolded.
The inmate came down from the wall and back into the charge of the prison authorities at about 3.30pm.
A Prison Service spokesman confirmed that what he described as an “incident at height” had taken place at the jail.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The incident was quickly resolved with no injuries to staff or prisoners.”
The spokesman was unable to say whether the inmate had come down from the wall voluntarily.
He did say, however, that an investigation would now be launched into the cause of yesterday’s events.
Roads closed during the incident included Hall Lane, triggering disruption to local bus services.
l Built in 1847, Leeds is a category B prison and has an operational capacity of 1,212 inmates.
The site has a total of 551 cells spread across six so-called ‘residential’ units, a segregation area and a healthcare wing.
It was a place of execution from 1847 until 1961, with hanging the main method of dispatching convicts.