The ambitions of neither of these sides were well served as a 25,000 crowd saw both draw a blank at the City Ground, although relegation-threatened Forest may have greater cause to regret their failure to break a scrappy deadlock.
A rash of injuries and an untimely outbreak of flu in the Forest camp forced manager Gary Megson to make do and mend with a seriously under-strength line-up. However, a chance to claim three potentially vital points was squandered when Kris Commons failed to convert a second-half penalty.
The result leaves Forest still four points adrift of safety with nine games left, while Leeds will reflect that their chance of sneaking into the play-off places is receding.
Suspensions had deprived Leeds of Michael Gray and Sean Gregan while an injury to Frazer Richardson required adjustments after only nine minutes. Megson's problems were somewhat worse, however, as a combination of illness and injury meant six absentees from the side beaten 6-0 at Ipswich on Saturday, all of them key personnel. Another, John Curtis, was unable to continue beyond half an hour.
Even so, in a messy opening half, it had been the makeshift home side showing the strongest attacking intent, Curtis and James Perch testing Neil Sullivan from distance.
A sequence of Leeds corners, some the product of defensive panic, put the home side under pressure but only after they had almost conjured a dream start to the second half, lively substitute Gregor Robertson's cross from the left met by Gareth Taylor with a diving header from 10 yards that rattled the frame of Sullivan's goal.
Megson sent on Commons, whose inspirational form has fired Forest's survival hopes, with just over half an hour left, having kept him on the bench at first because of a cold. This time, however, he failed to provide the heroic performance his side needed, winning a penalty after 71 minutes when Gary Kelly's trip ended a goalward burst, but then giving Sullivan a comfortable save from the spot.
Nottingham Forest (4-3-2-1): Gerrard; Louis-Jean, Morgan, Doig, Curtis (Robertson, 31); Gardner, Thompson, Perch (Harris, 89); James, Bopp (Commons, 57); Taylor. Substitutes not used: Doyle (gk), Beaumont.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Richardson (Carlisle, 9); Lennon, Walton, Wright (Johnson, 65), Pugh; Hulse, Healy (Deane, 78). Substitutes not used: Pressman, Einarsson.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).