Under the watchful eye of England supremo Sven-Goran Eriksson, Newcastle avenged their 4-3 defeat at the Reebok Stadium on Boxing Day - but were pushed all the way by Sam Allardyce's side.
In the end one goal was good enough and it was a personal milestone for the outstanding Jermaine Jenas.
The young midfielder pounced after 18 minutes for his third goal in the last four matches but importantly for him it was his first for Newcastle at St James' Park following strikes at Wolves and West Ham.
Newcastle are now within two points of second-placed Manchester United and crucially have opened up a four-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Chelsea.
It was an electric start by Newcastle with Kieron Dyer in particular looking to impress the England coach. Twice in the opening five minutes he went on lung-bursting runs through the centre of the park but lacked the finish that the approach work deserved.
Bolton regained their composure and the tireless Bernard Mendy was presented with a glorious chance but screwed the ball well wide after being left in space just inside the box.
What proved to be the all-important winning goal came when a ball over the top from Stephen Caldwell picked out Craig Bellamy.
He was eventually closed down by Bruno N'Gotty but cleverly held the ball up and waited for the rampaging Jenas before nutmegging the Bolton player and slipping the ball to the former Nottingham Forest star who directed it wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
However, Bolton worked their way back into the game and showed glimpses of what to expect in the second half when they had Newcastle on the rack.
The closest Newcastle came to extending their lead was on the hour mark when Alan Shearer rose to meet Nolberto Solano's right-wing cross only to see his header crash to safety off the bar.
A flying header from Caldwell almost deceived Shay Given who was forced to go full length to keep out an own goal from the defender and Mendy up lashed the rebound into the side-netting.
As Bolton pressed forward for the equaliser the pace of Robert twice caused havoc in the Bolton defence but each time the winger was denied by Jaaskelainen.