The match was a personal triumph for Jimmy Hasselbaink, the Dutch striker George Graham bought from Portuguese football for pounds 2m. Two goals took his total to 19 this season, while his all-round contribution may yet merit consideration by the Netherlands for the World Cup finals.
Chelsea, already assured of European football, only briefly maintained parity. Their lightweight line-up were thankful that two late efforts by the substitute Alf Inge Haaland did not worsen their 10th away defeat.
The Norwegian was one of two Leeds men sent off at Chelsea in December. On that occasion the history of mutual hostility, dating back to their epic struggles of three decades ago, had manifested itself in some ugly scenes in a game of 10 bookings, no goals, and little football.
The pre-match atmosphere augured better this time. There was a sustained ovation for the air crew that had successfully crash-landed Leeds' burning plane at Stansted nine days earlier, and the positive mood carried over into a flurry of early goals.
In driving rain, Leeds seized, squandered and then regained the initiative. After seven minutes, Ian Harte's throw-in found Hasselbaink spinning away from two defenders. Perhaps surprised at Chelsea's reluctance to attack the ball, Leeds' leading scorer dispatched it past Dimitri Kharine from 25 yards, with a drive that went in off the upright.
Another throw, by Michael Duberry, led to Chelsea's equaliser four minutes later. Mark Hughes nodded back across goal, whereupon Laurent Charvet thrashed the sweetest of half-volley's beyond Nigel Martyn.
Midway through the first half, Gary Kelly's free-kick picked out David Wetherall, mysteriously unmarked eight yards out. The centre-back headed his first League goal in six months.
Leeds sealed their success 73 seconds into the second-half following a patient build-up down the visitors' right flank. The resultant cross by Harte eluded Halle but reached Hasselbaink at the far post. Kharine reached his stooping header but could not keep out Leeds' 50th League goal.
Chelsea were angry that Gianfranco Zola had lain prostrate throughout the move, having been cut down from behind by Lucas Radebe. Before the contest restarted, Mr Elleray booked the South African defender. Wetherall and Hughes were also cautioned for fouls on each other, but such moments were relatively rare.
Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea's player-manager, had already made seven changes from the team who won at Derby on Sunday. Shortly after the hour mark he introduced two substitutes and may have rued the departure of Zola, the set-piece specialist, when Chelsea instantly won a free-kick in a central position 20 yards from goal.
Dennis Wise stepped up to aim powerfully for the spot between the angle of post and crossbar. Martyn, however, belied his recent patchy form by going airborne to tip the ball on to and over the bar. Leeds' night was complete.
Leeds United (3-5-1-1): Martyn; Wetherall, Hiden, Molenaar (Haaland, h-t); Kelly, Halle, Radebe, Bowyer, Harte; Kewell; Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Hopkin, Lilley, Matthews, Beeney (gk).
Chelsea (3-5-1-1) Kharine; Duberry, Lee, Myers; Charvet, Morris (P Hughes, 82), Newton (Lambourde, 63), Wise, Le Saux; Zola (Flo, 63); M Hughes. Substitutes not used: Vialli, Hitchcock (gk).
Referee: D Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill).