A powerful second-half performance deserved at least a point from a fixture that pitted second against third but it was the home side who were left to celebrate going top of League Two.
Lionel Ainsworth struck the only goal of the game from Craig Disley's cross after just five minutes.
Ainsworth went close twice more and Shrewsbury captain Ian Sharps, playing against his former club, had a good header saved by Andy Warrington as Graham Turner's side enjoyed the best of the first half.
It was all Rotherham after that but they came up against a goalkeeper in inspired form.
Chris Neal made good saves from top scorer Adam Le Fondre, Danny Harrison, Jason Taylor, Kevin Ellison and lively substitute Paul Warne, whose introduction soon after the interval played a big part in the revival.
Disappointed Millers boss Ronnie Moore said: "I can't fault the players. They gave everything.
"We paid for five minutes of madness at the start.
"We conceded a sloppy goal but after that Andy Warrington didn't have too much to do.
"In the second half we bulldozed them. It was like the Alamo. The keeper has made six or seven world-class saves.
"If we play like that week in week out we will not be far away."
Shrewsbury: C Neal, Raven, Sadler, Cansdell-Sherriff, Sharps, Ainsworth (McIntyre 80), Disley, McAllister, Wright, Harrold, Robinson (Van Den Broek 65). Unused substitutes: Leslie, L Neal, Bright, Hooman, Duyan.
Rotherham United: Warrington, Mullins (Fenton 87), Newey, Cresswell, Geohaghon, Law, Taylor, Harrison, Ellison, Elliott (Warne 49), Le Fondre. Unused substitutes: Annerson, Green, Ashworth, Marshall, Ani.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).
Man of the match: Chris Neal.
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