The last race of Friday’s evening session produced arguably one of the biggest upsets of the day, as none of the principal pre-race favourites finished in the top-three.
The defending champion from 2013, Brianna Rollins, had a quick and aggressive start, but knocked the very first hurdle down with her lead leg, quickly conceding the lead to Jamaica’s Danielle Williams, running on Rollins' outside in lane four.
Nevertheless, over the first four hurdles, Rollins stayed close contention for a medal.
As the race went on, the bronze medallist in Moscow two years ago, Tiffany Porter and the 2012 European champion Alina Talay from Belarus running in lane one, were making ground on the leaders.
But Williams, in her first major championships final, was at her absolute best.
The Jamaican, who came to Beijing after winning her national title and then the World University Games gold medal in the last couple of months, was powering over the hurdles, refusing to concede even a centimetre of her lead.
Williams – whose younger sister Danielle was also in the final and finished seventh – crossed the finish line first, clocking 12.57, a personal best by 0.01.
She returned the gold medal in this event to her island for the first time since 2009, when Brigitte Foster-Hylton won the world title in Berlin.
Porter looked poised for much of the race to take second, but she made a mistake off the last hurdles and, trying to out-lean the rivals few steps too early, the Briton lost her balance and somersaulted across the line.
This fall probably cost the experienced Briton a medal, as Germany’s Cindy Roleder and Talay were impressively surging forward over the last metres of the race.
The 2014 European Championships bronze medallist Roleder improved her personal best by 0.2, clocking 12.59, clutching her hands to her face immediately after the finish in almost stunned disbelief.
Talay ran 12.66 for third, bringing her country its first ever world championships medal in this event. She also equalled the long-standing national record set in 1990 by Lidia Yurkova.
It was the first time since 1997 that two European athletes gained world championships medals in this event.
Defending champion Rollins ended up in fourth, just 0.01 behind Talay, while Porter was fifth in 12.68.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF