The hosts had only lost twice at the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia stadium this season and went into Sunday's match eyeing a third straight win on their own patch.
Yet in Parma they met a side in sterling form and riding an unbeaten sequence dating back to November 2, and their confidence told as strikes by Cristian Molinaro, Antonio Cassano and Ezequiel Schelotto, plus a Yohan Benalouane own goal, saw them to the three points.
Just nine minutes had elapsed when the visitors nosed in front, Jonathan Biabiany sending over a cross into the box for Molinaro to collect and fire into the left corner.
Atalanta offered little as an attacking force throughout the contest and Parma almost doubled their lead early in the second half when Marco Parolo's centre was turned towards goal by Walter Gargano but Andrea Consigli made the save.
Daniele Baselli and Benalouane forced visiting goalkeeper Antonio Mirante into a couple of routine saves as Atalanta briefly came to life, but Parma soon had the game by the scruff of the neck as Cassano's low cross was turned into his own net by Benalouane.
It was 3-0 on 77 minutes, Cassano's well-taken free-kick finding the bottom-right corner, while Schelotto added gloss in the third minute of added time when he drilled home from just inside the area.