Town paid the price for not taking advantage of a dominant opening to the game to go down to an Iain Hume second-half goal.
Rory Fallon and Jason Scotland both had chances to put Blues ahead in an opening 25 minute spell as Preston were pegged back inside their own half.
The home side grew into the game though and Hume settled the game five minutes into the second-half, the Barnsley loanee marking his last appearance for the club before returning to Oakwell with a sidefoot finish from 10 yards.
Town made three changes to the side that went down at home to Swansea last week with Mark Kennedy returning to the team after recovering from his hamstring injury while Fallon came in for his first start in Town colours. David Norris was back in the side after shaking off a virus.
Blues started much the brighter side, Carlos Edwards seeing a shot blocked in the first minute, Andy Lonergan then reacting quickly to punch clear from Jason Scotland followed a headed back pass from Richie de Laet.
Scotland sent a 12 yard strike just wide after spinning away from his marker inside the box then linked up with Fallon to create an opening for Grant Leadbitter but his effort went wide.
Fallon was proving to be a real handful in the air and linked up well again with Scotland and Jack Colback, his shot deflected behind by Lonergan at full stretch.
Brian Murphy had his first real action midway through the half, punching clear from Jon Parkin and then dealing with Adam Barton's strike from distance.
Danny Pugh sent a free-kick straight into the Town wall before Fallon was denied by Lonergan at the other end in a flowing move that involved Scotland and Colback.
Hume claimed a penalty after going down under Tommy Smith's challenge but referee Eddie Ilderton was rightly not interested.
Preston had their best moment of the first-half on the half hour, Billy Jones heading against the bar.
It was Town that still looked the more threatening though, Lonergan saving from Leadbitter, Adam Barton clearing from Edwards' dangerous cross at the nearpost, Smith then sending a header wide from Colback's corner.
Hume fired over from the angle in the last effort of the half but the former Leicester striker found the net five minutes after the restart, Jones played Parkin in down the right and the striker's sidefoot finish beat Murphy.
Parkin had a great chance to extend the lead soon after but Murphy made the save, Troy Brown then getting his body in the way of Michal Tonge's effort as North End enjoyed a spell of possession around the Blues' goal.
Barton couldn't keep his header down from Barton's cross as Preston threatened a second, Pugh denied by Gianni Zuiverloon's challenge after his first effort had been blocked.
Andros Townsend replaced Kennedy just past the hour in Town's first change, Colback filling in at left-back, the Tottenham loanee immediately winning a free-kick and then firing it just wide.
Scotland made way for Tamas Priskin for the last quarter hour, Murphy quickly off his line to clear from Parkin before Jaime Peters replaced Edwards in Town's final throw of the dice.
Fallon had a shot beaten out by former Town defender Wayne Brown, Tonge then lashing the ball into the sidenetting.
Lonergan saved superbly from Peters' header and from the resultant corner Parkin hacked the ball off the line as Town pressed for an equaliser.
Barton picked up the first yellow card of the game on 80 minutes for a foul on Townsend. Norris smashed a shot over from 25 yards after Blues broke before Preston made their first change, Hume replaced by Paul Parry.
Fallon sent a curler just over , Lonergan yellow carded for timewasting as the game entered added on time before referee Ilderton brought an end to the game and left Town nursing a sixth successive League defeat.
Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Brown, Cort, de Laet, Tonge, Russell, Barton, Pugh, Parkin, Hume (Parry 85). Subs not used: Morgan, Davidson, St Ledger, Nicholson, Gray, Arestidou. Booked: Barton, Lonergan.
Town: Murphy, Zuiverloon, Brown, Smith, Kennedy (Townsend 63), Edwards (Peters 76), Norris, Leadbitter, Colback, Fallon, Scotland (Priskin 74). Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Livermore, Eastman, O'Dea.