Iain Hume claimed all three points for Preston to see Notts County drop to the foot of the League One table.
Before the break, Declan Rudd denied County's Greg Tempest, while Fabian Spiess stopped Stuart Beavon from breaking the deadlock for the visitors.
Callum McGregor fired high for the Magpies before Adam Coombes's header forced a fine save from Rudd.
But Hume came off the bench to tap in the winner from Scott Laird's low cross towards the end of the second half.
Chris Kiwomya's Notts County slipped to bottom of the table after
Bristol City earned their first league win in 22 matches against Carlisle,
while high-flying Preston remain in fourth.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Notts County manager Chris Kiwomya told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"I think we played with passion and commitment and there was nothing between the teams.
"It was a hard-fought game, but there was just one mistake at the end.
"We had a lot of youngsters out there and players out of position. We gave it our all and I am very proud of them.
"I'm trying to do the right thing here and the players are doing well. I'm working hard and I'll be there on Tuesday unless I'm told otherwise."
Notts County 23 Speiss 02 Dumbuya 25 Tempest (Bell - 71' ) 16 Labadie (Murray - 83' ) 04 Liddle 03 Sheehan 21 Thompson 28 Boucaud Booked 14 Coombes Booked (Haber - 74' ) 10 Haynes Booked 08 McGregor Substitutes 11 Bell 12 Haber 19 Murray 20 Campbell-Ryce 22 Fotheringham 34 Holt 35 Pilkington Preston North End 23 Rudd 07 Humphrey 03 Laird 06 Wright 05 Clarke 04 Huntington 02 Keane 19 Welsh Booked 10 Beavon (Garner - 63' ) 09 Davies Booked (Hume - 63' ) 30 Brownhill (Byrom - 91' ) Substitutes 01 Stuckmann 11 Holmes 13 Byrom 14 Garner 16 Buchanan 21 Mousinho 27 Hume
Ref: Scott Mathieson