Britain's Shara Proctor had long jump world gold snatched away from her in the final round of the competition as Tianna Bartoletta's last-gasp effort pushed her into silver.
On a night when Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers won her first world title with the fastest 200m in 17 years, Proctor, 26, produced a huge leap of 7.07m in the third round to become the first Briton over seven metres and smash her own national record.
That took Britain's tally to four medals and Tiffany Porter looked on course to make that five in the 100m hurdles but she stumbled off the final barrier while battling for the lead and fell to fifth.
Earlier Dina Asher-Smith went into the women's 200m final as the fastest qualifier and the 19-year-old maintained her impressive form, breaking Kathy Cook's 1984 British record to finish fifth in 22.07secs.
However, she was well beaten as Schippers ran an extraordinary 21.63 seconds to come past Jamaica's Elaine Thompson in the last five metres.
Asher-Smith told BBC Sport: "[Schippers' time of] 21.63 seconds is ridiculous. I didn't know those times existed.
"I'm happy to run a personal best and British record in a world final. I can't ask for any more. I didn't imagine I'd be coming fifth in the world, any time. It was amazing to be part of such a brilliant race."
Only two women in history - Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34secs in 1988) and Marion Jones (21.62secs in 1998) - have ever run faster than the 23-year-old Schippers, who also shattered Marita Koch's 36-year-old European record.
The Dutchwoman only switched her attention full-time to the sprints in June this year after making her name as a heptathlete.
And after winning 100m silver earlier this week she has continued her remarkable ascent, knocking four-tenths of a second off her personal best in the space of a year as she became the first European woman to win a world sprint medal in 10 years.
Asher-Smith's time was the fastest ever for fifth place in a major final, former Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown coming through for bronze from the inside lane in 21.97secs.
Thompson's 21.66secs for silver was a personal best by almost half a second, and only in the final few strides did the tall Schippers fight past her.
Bartoletta won the title, 10 years after her first World Championship gold
American Bartoletta won world long jump gold a decade ago at the age of 19 yet seemed destined to have to settle for bronze this time as Proctor added nine centimetres to her national record.
She followed that up with 7.01m in the fourth round and held that lead until only Bartoletta and Serbia's Ivana Spanovic were left to jump in the sixth and final round.
The American stole away the gold with a wonderful 7.14m, a new personal best of her own, with Spanovic taking bronze.
But Proctor was delighted to make the podium, telling BBC Sport: "I feel like a winner, I don't care about the colour of the medal. I was told I might not be strong enough. I'm here, I conquered."
Johnson-Thompson had another difficult night in the Bird's Nest, finishing 11th in the long jump
Britain's Lorraine Ugen finished fifth with a second-round 6.85m but Katarina Johnson-Thompson again endured a horrible time on the runway as she went out after the first three jumps with a best of just 6.63m.
The Briton had jumped 6.93m indoors earlier this year but after seeing her hopes of heptathlon gold disappear with three fouls in the long jump last weekend, she again struggled with her run-up.
At 22 years old she has time on her side but after coming fifth in the heptathlon at the last Worlds and being ranked the best multi-eventer in the world last year, these championships have been the first serious reverse of her career.
Sprint hurdler Porter admitted she "messed up" after failing to add to the bronze medal she won at the 2013 World Championships.
The 27-year-old was battling for the lead as she approached the final hurdle but lurched to her left as she landed and somersaulted over the line as she tried to stop herself from running in the lane next to her.
"It's a missed opportunity and I'm really disappointed," Porter, who finished 0.02secs outside of a medal place, told BBC Sport.
"As a competitor at this level you know when it wasn't a clean race and when you messed up. It's 10 barriers, you have to execute every one cleanly and I didn't."
Jamaica's Danielle Williams took gold in 12.57secs from Germany's Cindy Roleder with Belarusian Alina Talay third.
In the men's equivalent event, Russia's Sergey Shubenkov ran 12.98secs to edge a thrilling 110m hurdles final from Jamaica's Hansle Parchment and sentimental favourite Aries Merritt.
American Merritt, who is due to have a kidney transplant immediately after these championships, held the lead with two flights to go only for Shubenkov to come past him off the final barrier as Parchment sneaked through in lane eight.
Britain's Charlie Grice ran a smart race in the second of the two 1500m semi-finals to qualify automatically for Sunday's final.
The 21-year-old national champion came home fourth in a far faster race than the first semi, which saw his team-mate Chris O'Hare run out of it in a frantic last 50m sprint.
Goldie Sayers will not be in the javelin final in the stadium where she finished fourth in the Olympics seven years ago.
The 10-time national champion has struggled with a knee injury in recent weeks and her 58.28m was down on both her season's best and what she required in qualification.
And finally, America's Olympic champion Ashton Eaton ran the fastest ever 400m by a decathlete, 45 seconds dead, to hold a 177-point lead over his rivals going into Saturday's second day.