Veteran striker Teddy Sheringham scored a 33-minute hat-trick as Portsmouth went top of the Premiership for the first time in five decades.
Man of the match Sheringham's fantastic treble sparked an uninspiring match into life and allowed Pompey to defy bookies odds of 40-1 and reach the top-flight summit.
Bolton Manager Sam Allardyce left new signing Mario Jardel on the substitute's bench.
The Reebok Stadium chief was left to rue that decision as below par Bolton struggled to break down a stubborn Pompey resilience buoyed by a 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Saturday.
Danish international Henrik Pedersen looked the visitors' best hope in front of goal.
He produced the best opportunity of a disappointing first half, fending off a strong challenge from Dutch defender Arjan De Zeeuw before firing narrowly wide from eight yards out.
Sheringham served Allardyce with notice of what was to come when he tested Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen with a 20-yard free-kick midway through the first half.
Pompey took the lead just two minutes after the interval when midfielder Steve Stone took advantage of some slack Bolton defending to open the scoring.
Winger Stone found himself in the right place to bundle the ball home from two yards out after the inspirational Patrik Berger had seen his shot saved by Jaaskelainen.
French full-back Bruno N'Gotty should have drawn the Trotters level just seven minutes later when he inexplicably blazed over with only Pompey goalkeeper Shaka Hislop to beat, after Youri Djorkaeff's corner had caught the home side off guard.
N'Gotty was made to pay for that miss less than 60 seconds later when Sheringham headed his first and Pompey's second after Croatian full-back Boris Zivkovic had crossed from the left.
Sheringham put the match beyond doubt with his second three minutes from time before completing his hat-trick in the final minute from the penalty spot.
The former England striker blasted home from the spot after Ivan Campo had clumsily brought down Portsmouth substitute Vincent Pericard.