Former Mansfield Town striker Jon Shaw's second-half header earned Gateshead a point as the Stags paid the price for some wayward finishing.
Matt Green had already missed two good chances for the hosts before Ross Dyer netted from 15 yards after great work by Adam Murray and Aman Verma.
Lindon Meikle had a goal disallowed for the Stags and defender John Dempster shot wastefully over the bar.
And Shaw made them pay when he headed in a brilliant cross from Sam Rents.
The striker could even have secured an unlikely away win but was twice denied in the closing stages while Dyer also skied an effort over the bar for the home side.
Mansfield, who have now not won in five games, are now six points off the play-off spots while Gateshead, who have drawn their last three games, are just two points adrift.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"I'm baffled. We played extremely well and made a very good side a look very ordinary at times.
"Our play going forward was out of this world. I think we created about 20 chances and I think they scored with their only chance. I never thought we would concede a goal.
"The players worked really hard and played really well. I'm gutted."