Ashley Barnes struck 10 minutes from time to put Bristol City to the sword and continue league leaders Brighton's fine start to life in the Championship.
For 80 minutes, the visitors were frustrated by an inspired David James.
City's former England keeper pulled off a string of saves, the best of them a stunning double stop to deny Craig Noone and Craig Mackail-Smith.
Barnes ended James's resistance, though, following up Mackail-Smith's parried shot to drill in the winner.
The win maintains Brighton's fantastic start to the season following their promotion from League One and was secured without new signing Vicente Rodriguez, who did not even feature on the bench.
Not that the visitors missed him, despite a sluggish start that saw Marvin Elliott and Neil Kilkenny go close for the hosts.
Mackail-Smith and Barnes were a constant thorn in the side of Bristol City, and the former Peterborough striker forced James's first save of the afternoon with a long-ranger on 34 minutes.
It was a far less conventional save from James on the hour, though, when he parried Noone's shot, before spreading himself to deny Mackail-Smith on the follow up from point-blank range.
James then tipped an effort from Gary Dicker over the top, but the former Liverpool man was finally beaten 10 minutes from time when his defence failed to deal with a corner.
Inigo Calderon headed the ball back into a crowded goalmouth and although James saved Mackail-Smith's initial shot, the veteran was helpless to prevent Barnes smashing the rebound high into the net.
Brighton were still grateful to a smart save from Kapser Ankergren in the closing minutes from Brett Pitman.
But they held out for a fifth win from their first six games, a run of form in marked contrast to the Robins who lie 20th with five points.
Bristol City 01 James 02 Spence (Woolford - 87' ) 05 Nyatanga 18 Wilson Booked 36 McGivern 07 Elliott 08 Kilkenny 14 Skuse (Pitman - 82' ) 20 Campbell-Ryce (Stead - 64' ) 27 Adomah 10 Maynard Substitutes 22 Gerken 06 Carey 11 Woolford 09 Stead 34 Pitman Brighton & Hove Albion 16 Ankergren 03 Greer 05 Dunk 14 Calderon 22 Painter 11 Noone (LuaLua - 72' ) 17 Harley (Buckley - 73' ) 18 Dicker 26 Bridcutt 09 Barnes 12 Mackail-Smith Substitutes 01 Brezovan 20 Vincelot 08 Navarro 25 LuaLua 30 Buckley