The hosts had appeared to be heading for their first home win of 2012, but conceded a spot kick which allowed the visitors to capitalize on Gladbach's earlier defeat
Sejad Salihovic's spot kick had put Markus Babbel's men in front, but with full time looming, the hosts were ultimately denied what would have been their first home victory of 2012.
It was Hoffenheim which started the stronger of the two teams, and although the hosts seemed to be camped outside their opponents' box, they failed to trouble the Schalke defense.
They were soon almost made to pay for their lack of penetration. A Tobias Weis slip allowed Julian Draxler to seize possession and charge through the Hoffenheim defense, but the teenager wasn't able to capitalize, and only succeeded in forcing a decent save from Tom Starke.
Minutes later, another defensive lapse, this time from Jannik Vestergaard, gifted possession to Huntelaar, who elected to chip the onrushing Starke, only to see his effort dip onto the roof of the net.
Gradually, however, Hoffenheim began to regain its composure, and soon threatened the Schalke goal.
Sven Schipplock fed Roberto Firmino, who paused on the ball and was soon closed down by Kyriakos Papadopoulos, whose presence forced the Brazilian to screw his shot wide.
Minutes later, Firmino had another opportunity to shoot, but his effort was gathered at the second attempt by the returning Lars Unnerstall.
Eventually, however, the hosts got their breakthrough. A cunning through ball played in Schipplock, who was soon stopped in his tracks by a clumsy challenge from Unnerstall, who picked up a booking.
Salihovic stepped up, and made no mistake as he calmly stroked the ball into the net, sending Unnerstall the wrong way.
The Bosnian had appeals for a second penalty turned down seconds later, but replays revealed that Papadopoulos' challenge was a fair one.
The visitors were in poor form, and failed to fashion another chance, until a lovely chipped through ball from Lewis Holtby played in Raul, but the Spaniard's effort was blocked by Starke, who was quick off his line.
Unnerstall's torrid afternoon continued minutes after the second half. The 21-year-old played a poor clearance straight to Boris Vukcevic's, who was unable to capitalize and sent his effort well over the bar.
Soon, however, Schalke started to mount a comeback. Raul floated a lovely ball to far post which found Jefferson Farfan, who would have scored, were it not for a fantastic save by Starke.
The Peruvian sent the resulting corner straight on to Jermaine Jones' head, but Fabian Johnson was there to chest the ball off the line.
At the other end, a clumsy clearance from Joel Matip struck Schipplock and cannoned over the bar. Unnerstall turned a ferocious effort from Salihovic behind, and Raul was well-stationed on the post to clear Vestergaard's header.
The tempo of the game soon slowed, and Schalke began to continue its quest for an equalizer.
Hoffenheim was defending in numbers, however, and managed to clear away the relentless string of crosses from Farfan and Draxler, which were all too often aimless.
Another Farfan corner was flicked on to Huntelaar's foot, but the Dutchman's effort rattled the cross bar.
Eventually, however, Schalke got a penalty of its own. Chinedu Obasi ran at Andreas Beck, and went to ground. The referee pointed to the spot, and Huntelaar sent Starke the wrong way to finally bring his side level.
Christian Fuchs' free kick almost completed the turn around, but Starke capped a great afternoon by getting down low to beat away the Austrian's powerful strike.
Meanwhile, in today's other game, Hannover overcame Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 at the AWD Arena. The first half was a tight affair, with Igor De Camargo squandering the most notable chance after finding himself unmarked at the far post from a Marco Reus corner.
However, in the second half, the clash came alive. Didier Ya Konan was well-positioned to tap home a miscued shot from Konstantin Rausch, before Mame Biram Diouf doubled the hosts' advantage with a close-range header.
Havard Nordtveit pulled one back for Lucien Favre's side with just over 10 minutes remaining, but the visitors were unable to grab an equalizer, despite Reus and Filip Daems forcing great saves from Ron-Robert Zieler in the dying seconds.