A pulsating game in the London rain saw play go from end to end but after being 2-1 up, Frankie McAvoy's men were left empty-handed.
They'd fallen behind in the 17th minute to a goal from Lyndon Dykes but equalised when Emil Riis ran on to Sean Maguire's through ball just before the half-hour mark.
Maguire supplied the assist for Josh Earl to put North End in front less than a minute into the second half.
It was an advantage they held until the last 20 minutes when QPR scored twice in four minutes to swing the game in their favour,.
Jimmy Dunne ;levelled from close range after a free-kick to the far post, then Ilias Chair drilled in the winner after PNE had several bites to clear as the ball was worked in from the QPR right.
The disappointment of defeat was compounded by three injuries, Ali McCann lasting just 25 minutes of his first Championship start before suffering an ankle injuries.
Patrick Bauer departed at half-time, then Maguire left the pitch just after QPR's third goal with a hamstring issue.
McCann's inclusion at the expense of Ben Whiteman had been the only change made to the PNE side by Frankie McAvoy.
The opening quarter of an hour was somewhat cagey before QPR burst the game open with their 17th minute opener.
It was a poor goal for North End to give, its origins being an Earl cross into the home box which keeper Seny Dieng caught unchallenged.
He threw it out quickly to Chair who set off on a driving run up the pitch without a visiting player able to get a challenge in.
Chair laid the ball out to Andre Gray to the left of him, Gray's low cross into the box contested by Greg Cunningham and Dykes.
They both ended up on the floor, Dykes able to pick himself up and poke the loose ball past Daniel Iversen into the net.
Iversen saved at the near post from a Chris Willock shot before McCann's afternoon came to an early end.
The midfielder had hurt his ankle in a challenge with Gray on the edge of the PNE box. An attempt to run it off proved futile and he limpedd off to be replaced by Alan Browne.
It was shortly after the substitution that North End equalised, Earl's pass finding Maguire just inside the QPR half.
Maguire slipped a nice pass down the inside left channel, playing Riis in behind centre-half Rob Dickie.
Riis took a touch and side-footed a low shot past the advancing Dieng, the ball bobbling into the net.
Iversen saved from Willock again, while Daniel Johnson saw a free-kick travel wide.
In first-half stoppage-time, Browne's low shot from 20 yards was saved comfortably by Dieng diving to his left.
PNE were forced into a second substitution during half-time, Liam Lindsay replacing Patrick Bauer in the
The second half was only 57 seconds old when North End took the lead.
Ryan Ledson lifted a pass over the QPR defence for Maguire to chase down the right hand side of the six-yard box.
Maguire drove a low cross into the box which clipped a defender and fell to Earl who finished from close range.,
North End were well in the ascendency for a spell, Maguire seeing a shot deflected over the bar as they pressed for a third goal.
But the game was turned upside down with two goals from the home side in the space of four minutes.
In the 71st minute, Chair lifted a free-kick from the left channel over to the far post,
Greg Cunningham and Lindsay went up with Dykes in the air and when the ball dropped, Dunne prodded it home.
PNE were stunned when in the 75th minute Dykes got away from Lindsay down the right.
He cut in towards goal, the ball falling to Charlie Austin whose low shot was blocked by Iversen.
Browne's clearance was blocked by Dykes, it coming to Chair just inside the box who took a touch before firing low across Iversen into the far corner.
A frantic finish saw play go from end to end, North End pushing for an equaliser while QPR defended solidly and played on the break.
The visitors couldn't find parity in six minutes of additional time, defeat bringing their nine-game unbeaten run to an end.
QPR: Dieng, Dickie, Dunne, Barbet, Odubajo, Ball, Johansen (Amos 69), Willock (De Wijs 80), Chair, Dykes, Gray (Austin 69). Subs (not used): Kakay, Dozzell, Adomah, Archer,
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Bauer, Cunningham, Van den Berg, Ledson, McCann (Browne 25), Earl, Johnson, Maguire (Potts 73), Riis. Subs (not used): Rudd, Lindsay, Whiteman, Sinclair, Murphy,
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth)
Attendance: 13,624 (1,030 PNE)
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