The Reds struggled to break their hosts down on a cold day in South Yorkshire. Dexter Blackstock, making his first start since April 2013, had the ball in the back of the net in the second half but was penalised for a foul in the build-up.
The result moves Forest up to ninth in the Sky Bet Championship.
Stuart Pearce made four changes to the side that drew with Charlton last weekend as he opted for a 4-4-2 formation. Top scorer Britt Assombalonga was welcomed back into the side after serving a one-match suspension.
Robert Tesche’s reward for an excellent second-half cameo against the Addicks was a central midfield berth next to Henri Lansbury, while at centre back Kelvin Wilson was preferred to Jamaal Lascelles, who dropped to the bench alongside Matty Fryatt, Jack Hunt, Tom Ince, Chris Burke and Ben Osborn.
The Reds almost gifted their hosts a golden opportunity within two minutes when Karl Darlow fluffed his clearance from Wilson’s bobbling backpass under pressure from Millers striker Alex Revell. The keeper recovered in time to put the ball out for a throw.
It looked like Wilson’s involvement was over five minutes later when, after making a terrific sliding tackle in the middle of the park, he went down in agony with what looked like an arm or shoulder injury. After lengthy treatment, however, he was deemed fit to continue.
Rotherham had made a strong start to the game and it wasn’t until after both Tom Lawrence and Paul Green missed the target from range that Forest had their first sight of goal.
It came on 26 minutes, when Michail Antonio used his pace down the left to beat Scott Wootton. He dinked the ball to the back post and Blackstock did well to meet it but, under pressure from the Millers’ keeper and a defender, he could only bundle it wide.
Antonio was involved again three minutes later as The Reds looked to build momentum. He controlled an angled ball into the area and sent it across goal at waist height. Assombalonga stretched to volley it but could only send it off target.
But Rotherham were back in the ascendancy shortly afterwards, Ben Pringle drawing a comfortable save from Darlow with a low shot from just outside the area before the keeper was left helpless by Emmanuel Ledesma four minutes before the break. The former Middlesbrough man rocked the crossbar with an excellent strike from 30 yards.
The Millers kept up their pressure and again came close to scoring the opening goal, Lawrence sending the ball just wide with a first-time effort following excellent wide play by Reece James.
Danny Fox found himself in the book for remonstrating with referee Richard Clark, before his side had two half-chances to head into the break ahead.
As the game entered two minutes of first-half stoppage time, Assombalonga looked like he had been presented with a rare opening when Lansbury lofted a ball over the top for him, but Millers skipper Craig Morgan did well to head it behind for a corner.
Paterson’s delivery was half-cleared but Forest kept the move alive, eventually working the ball to Antonio. The winger’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked and the sides went into the break level.
There were no changes for either side at half-time but Lansbury had an opportunity to shift the scoreline in his side’s favour within two minutes of the restart. Antonio was the provider once more, whipping in a cross from the left, and Lansbury emerged from the crowd of bodies in the box to head the ball a yard over the bar.
Lansbury was involved at the other end shortly afterwards, making an important block from Ledesma after the ball fell to the Rotherham man on the edge of the area.
Antonio carried Forest back into Rotherham’s half with a terrific run down the right, winning a corner and drawing a retrospective booking for Pringle, who had hauled the winger back earlier in the move.
Paterson’s first corner was dangerous, leading Morgan to head the ball just over his own bar, while the winger’s second delivery was pushed away, albeit unconvincingly, by Rotherham keeper Adam Collin.
And it was from another Paterson corner, again won by Antonio, that The Reds had the ball in the net on 57 minutes - only to have the goal disallowed. Blackstock sent an unstoppable header past Collin but Mr Clark decided he had used a Rotherham defender to gain unfair leverage.
It had been a game lacking in clear-cut chances for either side, but Pringle was guilty of missing a golden opportunity for the hosts just before the hour. The ball was worked neatly to him eight yards out but he could only guide it over the bar.
The ball was sailing over Darlow’s head again four minutes later when Lawrence got too much height on his whipped strike from 25 yards, before Ledesma fired the ball over the angle of the keeper’s near post and crossbar with a similarly powerful effort.
Rotherham were looking the more likely team to open the scoring as the second half wore on, and Darlow had to make a good save on 70 minutes. Revell was released down the right and, although his dinked cross missed his intended target, the ball ran through for James on the edge of the area. He struck the ball sweetly, forcing the unsighted Darlow into a reaction save with his legs.
A minute later, Forest conceded a free-kick in a dangerous shooting position but Ledesma could only fire the ball into the wall.
Pearce made his first change with a quarter of an hour to play, replacing Blackstock with Ince. The Hull City loanee went to right wing with Antonio moving alongside Assombalonga up front.
The change appeared to give his side a lift, Eric Lichaj sending a dipping effort a yard over Collin’s crossbar before a Paterson cross caused havoc in the Millers’ area. The ball sailed just over Antonio’s head and Assombalonga couldn’t make contact on the stretch at the back post.
As the clock hit 90, Forest won a free-kick in shooting range. Danny Fox could only curl the ball over the bar.
Three minutes of added time were indicated, in the first of which Paul Taylor, on for Pringle, sent a tame shot straight at Darlow.
Forest won another free-kick in the dying seconds, with Lansbury’s delivery leading to a corner. But as Paterson stood over the ball, the referee blew for full-time to cap a frustrating afternoon for The Reds.