The promotion-chasing home side were distinctly lacklustre in the opening half hour and struggled to come to terms with their opponents but, having got their noses in front after sustained second-half pressure, Rochdale will feel disappointed with a point which sees them move up to fourth place in the table.
The nearest the home side came in the first half saw visiting keeper Jon Brain producing a brilliant reflex save after Tom Kennedy's free-kick had deflected off Terry Dunfield.
The home side came out for the second half with the tempo raised and might have broken the deadlock in its opening minute, but veteran striker Lee Thorpe fired over from a tight angle with two players screaming for the ball in a much better position.
On 54 minutes winger Adam Rundle got in a dangerous cross from the left which eventually fell to the feet of Joe Thompson, but his shot cannoned off the crossbar.
The home side deservedly got their noses in front on 66 minutes when Kennedy's cross was flicked on the near post by Chris Dagnall and bundled home from close range by Rundle.
Instead of folding as they might have done, Macclesfield hit back with manager Keith Alexander making three positive substitutions.
He was rewarded on 81 minutes when Brown capped a very effective performance by rising unchallenged to head home Izak Reid's right-wing cross.