Germany, fresh from their 6-1 thrashing of the Republic of Ireland on Friday, looked set for another big win as a brace from Miroslav Klose and further goals from Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil saw the hosts 4-0 up inside an hour.
However, hopes of a fourth successive win in Group C suddenly looked in doubt as Sweden, who had won both their opening qualifiers, pulled three goals back in a 14-minute spell through Zlatan Ibrahimovic (62), Mikael Lustig (64) and Johan Elmander (76).
The home side looked to have weathered that fightback, though, as the game entered injury time with them still holding on to a narrow lead, but in the third minute of added time Sweden stunned their opponents when Rasmus Elm made it 4-4.
There was a similar story in Madrid where reigning world and European champions Spain conceded a stoppage-time equaliser against France.
Spain looked on course to move three points clear of the French at the top of Group I thanks to Sergio Ramos' 25th-minute opener, with even Cesc Fabregas' penalty miss just before half-time not looking set to cost Vicente del Bosque's side dear.
But, with four minutes of injury time played, France snatched a 1-1 draw when Olivier Giroud, who had replaced Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema late on, headed in Franck Ribery's cross.
Holland assumed control of Group D with a thumping 4-1 win of Romania in their top-of-the-table clash in Bucharest.
Romania had not conceded a goal in their opening three wins, but their perfect record was in ruins within the opening 45 minutes as Jeremain Lens, Bruno Martins Indi and Rafael van der Vaart all found the target.
Robin van Persie then completed the rout four minutes from the end with Romania's consolation coming from a fine Ciprian Marica goal when they were 2-0 down.
Italy continue to set the pace in Group B with a 3-1 home win over Denmark.
Goals from Riccardo Montolivo (33) and Daniele De Rossi (37) put Italy in charge but a home win looked in question when Denmark pulled a goal back through William Kvist Jorgensen (45) and the Azzurri lost Pablo Osvaldo to a straight red card 18 seconds into the second half for violent conduct.
However, Italy were not made to pay for that dismissal as Mario Balotelli made it 3-1 in the 54th minute to complete the scoring.
Group H leaders England saw their match with Poland postponed until Wednesday due to a waterlogged pitch in Warsaw.
In Group A Belgium and Croatia remain level-pegging on 10 points after claiming 2-0 home wins over Scotland and Wales, respectively.
Two goals in three second-half minutes from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany earned Belgium their victory while Mario Mandzukic and Eduardo were on target for Croatia.
The top two are now six points clear of third-placed Serbia, who went down to a 61st-minute Agim Ibraimi penalty at Macedonia.
Italy's lead in Group B now stands at four points after their two nearest challengers Bulgaria and Czech Republic drew 0-0 in Prague.
In Group C, Austria claimed a deserved 4-0 win over Kazakhstan with goals from Marc Janko (two), David Alaba and Martin Harnik while Ireland bounced back from their mauling by Germany with a 4-1 win over Faroe Islands.
All five goals came in the second half with Ireland notching through Marc Wilson, Jon Walters, a Pol Justinussen own goal and Darren O'Dea, while the Faroes responded through Hallur Hansson.
Three points behind Holland in Group D are Hungary, who went behind to Mevlut Erdinc goal against Turkey but hit back to claim a 3-1 win thanks to efforts from Vladimir Koman, Adam Szalai and a Zoltan Gera penalty.
In the other group match, a 57th-minute Andres Oper header saw Estonia beat fellow strugglers Andorra 1-0.
Switzerland defeated Iceland 2-0 away from home with second-half goals from Tranquillo Barnetta and Mario Gavranovic and they remain three points clear of Norway at the top of Group E.
Norway trailed to a 42nd-minute Efstathios Aloneftis goal against Cyprus but recovered to win 3-1 with Brede Hangeland (45), Tarik Elyounoussi (81, penalty) and Joshua King (83) on the scoresheet.
Albania are in third place on six points after a Odise Roshi goal gave them a home victory over Slovenia.
Group F leaders Russia continued their 100 per cent start with a 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan, although they needed an 84th-minute Roman Shirokov penalty to claim a fourth win out of four.
Portugal are now five points behind after being held to a shock 1-1 home draw by Northern Ireland.
It could have been worse for the star-studded Portuguese as they required a 79th-minute equaliser from Helder Postiga to even salvage a point after falling behind to a first-half Niall McGinn goal.
Israel are level with Portugal after beating bottom nation Luxembourg 3-0, Tomer Hemed netting a brace either side of an Eden Ben Basat goal.
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece lead Group G with 10 points.
Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Lithuania 3-0 with goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic while Greece ended Slovakia's unbeaten start thanks to a Dimitris Salpingidis goal.
Also, Latvia beat 10-man Liechtenstein 2-0 at home with goals from Vladimir Kamess and Edgars Gauracs.
The other matches in England's group saw Montenegro join Roy Hodgson's men on seven points after beating Ukraine with Dejan Damjanovic netting the only goal, while second-half goals from Serghei Dadu and Alexandru Epureanu gave Moldova a 2-0 win at San Marino.
In the Spain-France group, Belarus beat Georgia 2-0 with Renan Bressan and Stanislav Dragun on the scoresheet.
FIFA World Cup Qualifying Results (UEFA)