It was a tale of two penalties in the first half of a drab encounter on the banks of the River Trent.
Robert Koren put Hull in front after 34 minutes before Billy Sharp levelled things up with his spot-kick in the 43rd minute.
Paul McShane won it for the Tigers with a close-range header after 69 minutes.
Steve Agnew, manager Steve Bruce’s No 2, was delighted with Hull’s performance and the result that cemented Hull’s place in the top six.
He said: “I thought we were good value for the win. The shape of the team was good and we were resolute and tough throughout. We had what was needed to see the game out.
“We feel as though we should be competing at the top end of the division and where we are at the moment is very pleasing.
“What we have to do is find the consistency we would like to see over a period of time because when we have had a good run of results something has gone wrong.
“It would be nice if we could now take it on from this result and go through December remaining unbeaten.
“But we all know that in this league everyone seems capable of beating everyone else.”
David Meyler was involved in the penalty that gave Hull the lead. He was brought down inside the box by Simon Gillett and Koren sent Lee Camp the wrong way from the spot, stroking the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Out of the blue, Forest were presented with the opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty for Alex Bruce’s foul on Sharp.
And the on-loan Southampton striker made no mistake from the spot, shooting powerfully into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Chris Cohen might have sent the hosts into half-time ahead but the midfielder lacked composure and blasted over from close range after his initial flick from Reid’s cross was blocked.
The game improved slightly after the break with early chances at both ends.
Adlene Guedioura, who scored a superb long-range effort against his former club Wolves last weekend to give Forest a 2-1 win at Molineux, curled a shot just wide before Ahmed Elmohamady shot straight at Camp.
Guedioura then had a goalbound effort blocked and Cohen volleyed the rebound into the Trent End from the edge of the area.
Forest were dominating possession without making any telling inroads and they were made to pay midway through the second half.
It was dreadful defending from Sean O’Driscoll’s side. Koren’s corner was allowed all the way through a crowded penalty box and McShane had the simple task of heading in from two yards out.
Forest continued to enjoy much of the ball, with Hull seemingly content to play on the counter attack.
Centre-half Ward was pushed up front in the closing stages as an additional aerial threat and he almost rescued a point for Forest in injury time but his header was plucked from beneath the crossbar by Hull keeper David Stockdale.