Kent's ninth-wicket pair of Calum Haggett and Adam Riley held out for 22 overs to ensure an honourable draw with Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Set 342 to break a six-match winless sequence, the visitors fell 46 short on 296 for eight.
Hampshire seemed to be en route to only their second win of the season when Kent were reduced to 41 for four before lunch, but a stirring innings of 96 from Darren Stevens removed the initiative from the home side and they never regained it.
The scene was set for an intriguing last day when Hampshire were fed 108 in 9.4 overs by Sam Northeast and Rob Key.
Liam Dawson and James Vince gorged themselves on a rich diet of full tosses and half-volleys to reach 87 and 79 respectively before Hampshire declared at 207 for three.
Kent made a dreadful start in search of a first victory, losing Key for one and Northeast for 13 to David Balcombe, along with Brendan Nash and Ben Harmison in the first 13 overs.
However, on a blameless wicket, Stevens and Daniel Bell-Drummond launched a powerful counter-attack with a dynamic stand of 144 in 34 overs.
The aggressive Stevens struck two sixes and 15 fours from 105 balls and appeared certain to reach three figures, only to be caught behind when mis-judging a short delivery from Sean Ervine.
All three results remained possible at tea, taken with Kent 194 for five, but Bell-Drummond’s useful contribution ended at 66 when he turned spinner Danny Briggs to Vince at short-leg.
Geraint Jones fell to the same combination soon after, leaving Kent 222 for seven with 32 overs remaining.
Haggett and Matt Coles offered resistance with a stand of 28 in 10 overs before a mix-up over a run saw the latter beaten by Jimmy Adams’ direct hit.
Yet that was the closest Hampshire got to a badly needed win as Haggett and Riley dug in with an unbroken stand of 46, surviving numerous appeals and bowling changes to deny their desperate opponents.
Young spinner Riley, who took 7-150 in Hampshire's first innings, had the unusual experience of recording best bowling and batting performances in the same match.