Blackburn ended a run of 10 successive defeats on the road in the Barclays Premier League and gave a welcome boost to the absent Sam Allardyce in the process.
Allardyce is scheduled to have surgery on a heart condition and missed the derby against the club he played for and managed.
His team did him proud though with influential midfielder David Dunn capping a superb performance by making the breakthrough.
Bolton's misery was complete when full-back Sam Ricketts scored a bizarre own goal in the second half.
Dunn, who almost joined Bolton, stated his intentions as early as the fourth minute, clipping a shot wide of the post following a misplaced clearance from Ricketts.
They stepped up the pace and Franco Di Santo went on a surging run four minutes later, only for his shot to take a deflection off Andy O'Brien's heel.
Play switched down the other end and Matt Taylor got into a good position inside the area but failed to take advantage of Gavin McCann's crossfield pass.
Dunn came close to making the breakthrough in the 23rd minute when he hooked the ball over goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen but Gary Cahill read the situation well to make the clearance.
Bolton responded in the 29th minute when Taylor delivered a superb cross to the back post but Ricardo Gardner just failed to get a vital touch.
This was a better spell by Bolton and Gardner picked up a pass from Kevin Davies raced forward, only to send his effort wide of the post.
Bolton almost took the lead in the 31st minute when Taylor's free-kick took a deflection off Ryan Nelsen and came back off the bar.
Blackburn hit back immediately and took the lead a minute later with a flowing move that rocked the home side.
Di Santo started it and released Roberts, who in turn found Dunn. The midfielder steadied himself and found the corner with his effort for his sixth goal of the season.
Bolton almost drew level in stoppage time when Taylor whipped in a free-kick that Paul Robinson did well to push over. Then Taylor headed high into the crowd from inside the six-yard area.
Blackburn almost extended their lead in the 48th minute when McCann's clearance fell to El-Hadji Diouf.
He smacked in a volley only for the Bolton midfielder to make amends and head the ball to safety over his own bar.
The home side hit back but Gardner failed to hit the target from inside the six yard area after being released by Ricketts.
Then Davies got on the end of a cross from Samuel, only to see his header go wide of Robinson's post.
Jaaskelainen then came to Bolton's rescue in the 64th minute by blocking Di Santo's shot after he had been set up by Dunn.
A minute later McCann again cleared off the line from Roberts, who had headed the ball goalwards following a flick-on from Nelsen.
Blackburn extended their lead in the 73rd minute following an embarrassing mix-up between Ricketts and Jaaskelainen.
The full-back headed back a cross from Brett Emerton not realising his goalkeeper had already started walking out.
The pair could only look on in disbelief as the ball nestled firmly in the net to give Blackburn a two-goal cushion.
Emerton almost added a third two minutes later but Jaaskelainen got down quickly to turn his effort around the post.
But these are difficult days for Bolton manager Gary Megson as his side remain in the relegation zone.