The hosts trailed to a 23rd-minute goal from Anselmo, but were back on level terms 10 minutes later thanks to Diego Souza.
The result lifts Vasco above Sao Paulo by a single point, while Botafogo now lie just two points off the summit following a 1-0 win at Gremio.
Washington Abreu found the target for Botafogo after 65 minutes.
Palmeiras were also 1-0 winners over Ceara thanks to an own goal from Thiago Matias two minutes before the interval.
The victory sees Palmeiras move up to seventh in the table.