Jamie Bain thought he had given his side victory when he came up with a goal deep into injury-time, but Stevie May contributed an even later equaliser for Hamilton, his second goal of the game.
Seven bookings peppered a match that was frantic from the off. Airdrie struck the woodwork twice in the opening 10 minutes through Bain and Jordan Moore, but it was Hamilton who made the breakthrough with a calm finish from May on 61 minutes after being set up by Gary Fisher.
Moore equalised from the penalty spot two minutes later, with Fisher's protests landing him among those yellow-carded.
There was some comfort for the home side as they at least gained ground on second-bottom Dumbarton, who lost 3-2 away to Raith Rovers in a similarly pulsating encounter.
Dumbarton were bidding for their fifth successive away win and arguably started favourites against a Raith side which had lost four in a row.
However, Allan Walker gave Raith the lead five minutes from half-time before the in-form Bryan Prunty equalised seconds before the break. Pat Clarke put Raith back in front before Prunty struck again, but Brian Graham conjured up a late winner for the Kirkcaldy side.
Dunfermline Athletic's promotion hopes suffered another jolt when they lost 1-0 at Falkirk with David Weatherston, a substitute, scoring the only goal with just three minutes left.
On a difficult surface, Conor McGrandles' first-half header for the home side was tipped over by Paul Gallacher before Ryan Thomson's header bounced over the crossbar at the other end.
Lyle Taylor wasted a great second-half chance for Falkirk, but his blushes were spared by Weatherston's late goal.
Livingston produced a fine 3-0 win over Cowdenbeath at Almondvale, with all of the goals coming in the first half.
The home side pretty much controlled it from start to finish, Iain Russell scoring the opening goal with a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from Liam Fox's precise pass after 27 minutes.
Russell had a big hand in the second goal six minutes before half-time as he exchanged passes with Anthony Andreu for the latter to beat Thomas Flynn.
There was no way back for Cowdenbeath when Jesus Garcia Tena added a third before the break after a surging run. He gave Jordan Morton the initial chance, but when his shot was blocked by Flynn, Tena was first to the loose ball.
Livingston played some exhibition football at times in the second half and, although they are still some way off the pace, Gareth Evans' side were the only team in the top four to win yesterday.