Billy Sharp scored the only goal of the game as Sheffield United ended their long wait for a win at Glanford Park.
The striker, who netted 56 times in 95 Scunthorpe appearances at the start of his career, turned home Jay McEveley’s corner early in the second half.
It was the ninth goal of the season for Sharp, who progressed through the Blades’ youth system before moving to north Lincolnshire.
Visiting manager Nigel Adkins, who effectively launched his coaching career with Scunthorpe, endured an anxious finale as Charlie Goode inexplicably headed wide for the hosts during added time.
But with United recording their third straight win and also completing a hat-trick of clean sheets, it proved a good afternoon for the 50-year-old.
“I think this is the first time that Sheffield United have ever won at Glanford Park,” said Adkins, who twice led the Iron to promotion to the second tier. “It was destined for Billy Sharp to also come back here and score, wasn’t it?”
“That’s two in two games for him now, he’s on a bit of a roll.”
Scunthorpe’s manager, former Barnsley and Huddersfield Town boss Mark Robins, said: “I honestly thought we created the better chances.
“I didn’t think we played particularly great, but we created the better opportunities.
“It’s disappointing, really disappointing, but we’ve created enough chances to get at least a point out of that.”
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wiseman, Laird, Canavan, Williams, Madden, Bishop (Ness 82), King (Henderson 76), Rowe, Goode, Wootton (Adelakun 60). Unused substitutes: Anyon, Van Veen, Dawson, Ness, Clarke.
Sheffield United: Long, Brayford, Basham (Reed 72), Coutts, Sharp, Done (Sammon 64), Collins, Woolford, McEveley (K Wallace 82), Edgar, Hammond. Unused substitutes: Howard, Flynn, Scougall, Campbell-Ryce.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).