A late goal denied Lincoln their third straight win as they continued their climb up the table.
The Imps looked to be coasting to victory after taking the lead early in the second half, but four minutes from time Rochdale midfielder Gary Jones fired a ball into the box, which took a deflection off a defender into the path of Jamie Clarke who fired home from 10 yards.
Lincoln had plenty of chances but failed to make their pressure count. Simon Yeo set up Peter Gain in the 14th minute but the midfielder's low shot was pushed out by Rochdale keeper Neil Edwards. Yeo followed up but his effort also bought an excellent save out of Edwards.
The Rochdale keeper was in action again in the 22nd minute when City striker Francis Green turned a defender inside the box and hit a left foot shot which Edwards kept out.
Lincoln had a scare three minutes later when Rochdale youngster Leighton McGivern, making his full debut, set up Greg Heald but the defenders shot richochet off Lincoln's Ben Futcher into the side netting.
Rochdale had another chance four minutes before the half-time break when Gary Jones hit a free-kick over the Lincoln defensive wall but Imps keeper Alan Marriott saved.
Marriot was in trouble moments later when he missed a sloppy back pass from team-mate Paul Morgan but Rochdale's Grant Holt took too long to get his shot in and Marriot recovered to save.
Lincoln went in front in the 50th minute when Gareth McAuley sent a free-kick into the box. Ben Futcher headed on and Matthew Bloomer arrived unmarked to net his second league goal of the season.
Lincoln should have had a second goal midway through the second half when Yeo set up Green as the striker hit his shot over the top.
Then Yeo produced a superb cross from the left but Martin Carruthers, without a goal since joining Lincoln last month, shot wide from three yards.
Green and Bloomer both went close but Rochdale threw men forward in the closing minutes with the move paying off thanks to Clarke's equaliser.