Siniša Mihajlovic's young Serbia side - who boasted an average age of 23 - were hemmed in for long spells of the first half, but seemed to grow in confidence the longer the match progressed after surviving a bombardment of free-kicks and corner kicks particularly in the first period with 47,369 fans looking on.
Indeed, the visiting side looked set to win the match in the final minute when Dusan Tadic managed to give Andy Webster the slip with Scotland pushing for a winner at the other end.
Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor spread himself superbly to deny the midfielder after racing from his line.
The home side were almost in for the winner themselves seconds later when Charlie Adam fed substitute James Forrest with the Celtic winger slamming a shot at goal which the Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic managed to claw out before Serbia scrambled the ball clear courtesy of Branislav Ivanovic.
Scotland have failed to win five of their past six opening matches in World Cup qualifiers. A Neil McCann goal gave them a 1-0 win in Latvia in 2000, but this result does not give Scotland the flying start their manager Craig Levein craved in a section that also contains Belgium, Croatia, Wales and Macedonia.
The draw adds pressure to Scotland's second World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Tuesday night with the visitors apparently unfortunate to lose to Croatia in their first match of the section.
There is a need to win that match while Serbia were buoyant at full-time having avoided defeat. They were clearly satisfied with their day's work before they host Wales at home on Tuesday.
Scotland - without an appearance at a major finals since the 1998 World Cup in France - handed a debut to Huddersfield left-back Paul Dixon due to a raft of injuries, and the former Dundee United player had an excellent match in containing the threat of the Serbians while pushing forward himself. Kenny Miller was preferred to Blackburn's new £8 million signing Jordan Rhodes, but did not enjoy his best outing.
Neither did Stoke's new signing Adam with the former Liverpool midfielder failing to direct enough accuracy on a plethora of free-kicks inside the Serbian half.
Serbia looked dangerous on the counter attack with McGregor forced to dive to repel a dipping Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick on seven minutes with Gary Caldwell making a superb tackle to win the ball from Darko Lazovic in his own box three minutes later.
Scotland's first real chance of the match arrived on 22 minutes when Robert Snodgrass prompted Stojkovic to swat a shot away under pressure as Scotland started to find their range.
But the visiting side looked dangerous minutes before half-time as Lazovic test McGregor with a solid hit that needed another sharp save.
Stojkovic continued to excel at the other end as he made a fine stop to half Miller's shot while Miller should have done better when he mistimed his run and failed to get a head on a cross from James Morrison just after the hour mark.
With the game opening up at both ends, Kolarov drove a shot narrowly wide of goal on 63 minutes while Naismith managed to lift the ball over Stojkovic four minutes later only to see the ball drop agonisingly wide.
Scotland threw on Forrest, Rhodes and Jamie Mackie for Snodgrass, Miller and Morrison in a frantic bid to find the three points. In the final analysis, a point may not be a disaster for them, but it is imperative they pick up a win against the group's apparent weakest side at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.