First goals for their respective sides from Rodrigo Moreno and Ronnie Stam divided the spoils without greatly helping either Wanderers' European aspirations or Wigan's efforts to climb away from relegation.
A dour affair was fanned into belated life in the second half, when Rodrigo, the young winger on loan from Benfica, found the net, followed by a soft equaliser from Stam.
It was a result to frustrate the Bolton manager, Owen Coyle, who for the second match running chose to underline his squad's lack of depth by naming just four substitutes.
"On another day, we could have scored four or five," he said. "But if you turn off, you get punished and that's what happened. "All due respect to Wigan, but we were a lot better than them tonight."
Predictably, Roberto Martinez saw it differently. "Coming here with the suspensions and injuries we had, we had to be at our best," he said. "That was the sort of character we will need in the next 17 games."
After a dismal first half, Bolton were ahead ten minutes into the second. Mark Davies ran at the Latics' defence and threaded through a delicate ball which the 19-year-old Rodrigo clipped past the advancing Chris Kirkland.
The goalkeeper was injured soon after in a collision with Johan Elmander and carried off with a head injury – a continuation of Kirkland's accident-prone season following his recall from his loan at Leicester.
"First reports are good," said Martinez. Not so good on the promising Manchester United loanee, Tom Cleverley, who could be out for a month with a hamstring injury.
Wigan stepped up their efforts by giving the lonely Hugo Rodallega more support, but they found Gary Cahill a commanding figure in their path. That was until the 80th minute, when he and the rest of the defence went missing for Stam to slide in unmarked and equalise.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Moreno (Petrov, 83), Muamba, M Davies, Taylor (Blake, 90); K Davies, Elmander. Substitutes not used Bogdan (gk), Alonso.
Wigan Athletic (4-1-4-1): Kirkland (Pollitt, 62); Gohouri, Alcaraz, G Caldwell, Figueroa; Thomas; Stam (McManaman, 90), McArthur, Watson, Cleverley (Diame, 12); Rodallega. Substitutes not used S Caldwell, Piscu, Robinson, Gomez.
Match rating 5/10.
Man of the match Cahill.
Referee P Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent).