Neither Lionel Messi nor Gareth Bale were named in the starting line-ups for this first leg but their replacements filled the void as Malcom's curling shot cancelled out an early opener from Lucas Vazquez.
After an impressive opening 20 minutes, Madrid were largely second best in a compelling, if unspectacular, Clasico but the result leaves them well-placed heading into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on February 27.
For Santiago Solari's side, a resilient, gutsy display will also help erase the memory of their humiliation in October, when they were thrashed 5-1, a result that caused Julen Lopetegui to be sacked the following day.
Messi, who had been struggling with a thigh problem, and Bale, who faces a fight to regain his place after recently recovering from a calf injury, both came on after the hour but neither could inspire a winner.
Instead, it was the young guns that took center stage. Vinicius Junior, the youngest Real Madrid player to feature in a Clasico this century, was his team's greatest threat until the 18-year-old departed in the second half.
Malcom was just as unpredictable and in the end, it was his goal that keeps Barca on level terms.
Barely 10 seconds had passed before Toni Kroos snapped into Ivan Rakitic, setting the tone for what was a dominant opening spell from Madrid.
Vinicius led the way. He was fearless, full of imperfections and erratic decisions but delivering moments of clarity too when Madrid were at their most threatening.