Tom Bradshaw came closest for the hosts, who drop down to ninth place, when the forward's close-range effort was cleared off the line in the second half.
Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom thought a draw was the most his side deserved at Oakwell.
He said: "I was pleased with how we coped with their threats but I didn't feel that we did enough to win the game.
"We didn't cause them enough problems so it is probably a fair result. There were not enough crosses into the box, not enough efforts on goal and that is literally it.
"I said at half-time I was conscious that I didn't want Preston to grind us down, because the team they picked and the message from Simon (Grayson) at the start of the game was that he wanted a tougher, more aggressive performance.
"I don't even speak about the top six. It is about winning the next game, so it has not even entered my head.
"I just know how much work we have got to do with the players that we have got in here. It is about getting better quickly and seeing how good a team we can be."
Unlike Barnsley, Preston had remained relatively unscathed from the January transfer window, but failed to score in successive league games for the first time since March 2016.
Preston began the brighter of the two sides and almost caught Barnsley out within minutes of kick off, Jordan Hugill dispossessed Marc Roberts, but Paul Gallagher's cross was too high.
The home side had a similar chance shortly after. Marley Watkins, who handed in a transfer request during the January window, saw his cross nodded wide by Adam Armstrong.
An unexpected free-kick routine from Ryan Kent released an unmarked Josh Scowen inside the box, but the midfielder's effort was blocked for a corner.
Debutant Callum Elder nearly put the ball into his own net as Aiden McGeady's cross deflected off the defender and edged narrowly wide of the mark.
Neither side could grab a foothold on the game as both sides saw further chances wasted. Simon Makienok's header forced a save off Adam Davies from a corner before Barnsley's Matty James drove a shot past the Preston post.
Another audacious set piece from Barnsley's Kent was scraped off the line by Chris Maxwell as the winger almost scored direct from a corner.
The away side went close again, Hugill was played through by Gallagher but dragged his shot past both Davies and the goal.
Armstrong had the first chance of the second period, fizzing a left-footed strike at the Preston goal that Maxwell had to be at his best to save.
The bustling forward then tried a daring lob over the Preston keeper from near the half-way line. As Maxwell attempted to dart back to his goal-line, the ball sailed above the woodwork.
Preston failed to take advantage of a free-kick on the edge of the area after a foul on McGeady, Gallagher curling the effort way wide of the target.
Having just lost the ball, Kent battled to win back possession from his marker and crossed for Bradshaw, who looked to drill his shot into the corner, only for a Preston player to clear off the line.
It was an end-to-end finish at Oakwell with neither side able to get a clean shot on goal. Substitute Callum Robinson crossed low to Jermaine Beckford but the former Everton man failed to trouble Davies.
The Barnsley keeper then denied Preston a win at the death, Hugill rose highest following a free-kick and clawed the ball out of the top-right corner.