The Reds ended their six match losing streak when they beat the Highlanders 38-31 with a bonus point at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The Highlanders scored 31 points through four tries in the second half and looked to have earned a bonus draw in the final minute of the match before the Reds went through 16 phases from the half way line and Jake Schatz his second try to win the match in extra time.
Will Genia who was playing in his 100th Super Rugby match kicked the conversion to end the match and the Reds losing streak.
The Reds victory came after they nearly blew a 21-point halftime lead.
The Highlanders had levelled the scores at 31-31 with a try by Japanese international Fumiaki Tanaka in the final minute of normal time.
But the Reds regrouped and scored the clinching try through number eight Jake Schatz, following 18 phases, two and a half minutes after the siren.
It was a see-sawing match of nine tries, with the Reds leading 21-0 at halftime only for the Highlanders to fight their way back to draw level, crowned by the Reds clinching try.
It was a fitting victory for Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia, who was playing in his 100th match for Queensland and was at the heart of most of the Reds attacks.
Genia provided the kicks which led to tries to Rod Davies and Dom Shipperley in the first half and gave the final pass for Schatz's second and winning try after the siren.
Genia was given the final kick to convert Schatz's try.
The Reds played some of their best rugby in a troubled season with three converted tries in the opening 34 minutes through Curtis Browning, Davies and Shipperley with Mike Harris deadly accurate with the conversions.
But Otago hit back in the second half with tries by Lima Sopoaga, Richard Buckman and Patrick Osborne with Schatz scoring his first try off a Reds pushover scrum.
Replacement scrum-half Tanaka looked to have rescued a draw for the Highlanders when he dived over a ruck for a converted try only to set up Queensland's last-gasp winning try.
"It's good to win again, it's been a while," Reds skipper James Horwill said.
"We made it hard for ourselves in the second half but found a way to win in the end."
Both teams earned bonus points from the match and the Highlanders earned an extra bonus point for finishing with seven points.
The result provisionally moved the Highlanders up to fourth place overall and into second place in the New Zealand Conference.
The Reds meanwhile moved off the bottom of the standings and into thirteenth place but still last in the Australian Conference.
The Highlanders will return from the June break with a match against the Chiefs at home and then away matches against the Waratahs and the Crusaders.
The Reds finish the season with away matches to the Rebels and the Force and ending off with a home match against the Waratahs.
Final Score Reds 38 (21) Highlanders 31 (0)
Tries - C.Browning, R.Davies, D.Shipperley, J.Schatz 2
Pen - M.Harris
Con - M.Harris 4, W.Genia
Tries - L.Sopoaga, R.Buckman, P. Osborne, F. Tanaka
Pen - H.Parker
Con - L.Sopoaga 2,H.Parker 2
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 1: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: Steve Leszczynski
1. James Slipper , 2. James Hanson , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Rob Simmons , 5. James Horwill (C) , 6. Curtis Browning , 7. Beau Robinson , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Will Genia (VC) (100th Queensland cap) , 10. Ben Lucas , 11. Rod Davies , 12. Anthony Fainga'a , 13. Ben Tapuai , 14. Dom Shipperley , 15. Mike Harris
Replacements : 16. Andrew Ready (potential debut) , 17. Albert Anae , 18. Sef Faagase (potential debut) , 19. Dave McDuling , 20. Liam Gill , 21. Nick Frisby , 22. Samu Kerevi (potential debut) , 23. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
1 . Kane Hames , 2 . Liam Coltman , 3 . Ma’afu Fia , 4 . Jarrad Hoeata , 5 . Joe Wheeler , 6 . Gareth Evans , 7 . Shane Christie , 8 . Nasi Manu (co.captain) , 9 . Aaron Smith , 10 . Lima Sopoaga , 11 . Patrick Osborne , 12 . Shaun Treeby , 13 . Malakai Fekitoa , 14 . Richard Buckman , 15 . Ben Smith (co.captain)
Replacements : 16 . Ged Robinson , 17 . Matias Diaz , 18 . Chris King , 19 . Tom Franklin , 20 . Elliot Dixon , 21 . Fumiaki Tanaka , 22 . Hayden Parker , 23 . Phil Burleigh