The latest Ipsos MORI survey for STV News put the SNP in the lead with 36% of voters saying they would back Alex Salmond's party if there was a Holyrood election tomorrow.
Scottish Labour were on 34%, the closest they have been to the Nationalists since Johann Lamont became leader two years ago.
Compared with a similar poll in September, the SNP were down three percentage points and Labour down one point.
The Conservatives gained three points, putting them on 15%, while the Liberal Democrats were on 7%, unchanged from September.
The poll found Nicola Sturgeon remained the most popular political leader in Scotland, though her net satisfaction rating, the difference between those satisfied and dissatisfied with her performance, dipped five points to +16. Alex Salmond's rating slipped by a single point to +7. The same poll recorded the first rise for independence in a year, with 34% of those who are certain to vote choosing the Yes side.
Better Together leader Alistair Darling had a net satisfaction rating of +3, down two points since September.
Johann Lamont was on +9, up 3 points. However, nearly a third of Scots still do not know enough about the Scottish Labour leader to provide a rating.
Among the other party leaders, Ruth Davidson has a rating of +2, up 2 points from September; Lib Dem Willie Rennie remained at -5 and Green Patrick Harvie stood at +13, up two points.
However, for each of these leaders, between a third and a half of Scots do not know enough about them to make a judgement on their performance.
PM David Cameron's approval remains at -28, the same as September.
Mark Diffley, Director at Ipsos MORI Scotland said: "The SNP would be likely to remain the largest party at Holyrood if there were an election held now but Scottish Labour will be pleased to see the gap between the main two parties close, even if their own support has not increased.
"The First Minister and his deputy remain the most well-known and popular political figures in Scotland, a factor which they hope will be important in the independence referendum campaign next year."
The next Holyrood election is in 2016. The poll of more than 1000 Scots over-16s was conducted between November 29 and December 5.
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "Under Johann Lamont's leadership, we have closed a 26-point gap in the polls and have achieved major swings in two by-elections, including a win from the SNP in Dunfermline."