An 85th-minute winner from substitute Jay Simpson meant Albion headed home from the KC Stadium with nothing to show from a decent away performance.
In a game that appeared to be heading for a third successive nil-nil draw between the two clubs, Albion were cruelly caught out with five minutes left of normal time.
The Seagulls, with Craig Mackail-Smith back after an injury-plagued pre-season, produced a excellent opening-day display, with the former Peterborough man at the heart of Albion's brighter moments.
Albion's record signing was in the thick of it right from the off. Inside the first minute, he burst into the penalty area, where alert goalkeeping from Tomasz Kuszczak's former Manchester United colleague Ben Amos averted the danger. A half-hearted penalty appeal was rightly waved away as Amos had
clearly made contact with the ball as he dived bravely at the Albion striker's feet.
Mackail-Smith then turned provider after he'd raced clear on the right. He picked out Craig Noone, who'd drifted in from the left flank, but a great tackle from Joe Dudgeon denied the Seagulls winger the chance to shoot.At the other end, Kuszczak showed his quality, with a fine one-handed save, getting
down low to his left to push Sone Aluko's drive behind for a corner.
Mackail-Smith was enjoying plenty of service and midway through the first half Noone escaped down the left, Mackail-Smith met his cross with a glancing header, but couldn't quite direct the effort on target.
Albion and their hosts were keen to keep the ball on the deck and a spell of patient passing from the Seagulls, with Wayne Bridge, Liam Bridcutt and Gary Dicker all involved, created the opportunity for Andrew Crofts to shoot from distance, but the effort went wide of Amos's goal.
City winger Aluko wasn't afraid to try his luck from long range, and the summer arrival from Rangers almost opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a superb shot from the left wing. His out-swinging attempt beat Kuszczak, but smacked against the bar to the relief of the Albion fans behind the Polish
That lifted the home crowd, and moments later Robert Koren's low drive again brought the best out of Kuszczak who was equal to the drive and pushed the ball away to safety.
A rare long ball out of defence by Spaniard Bruno picked out Mackail-Smith, who brought it down with an exquisite first touch and then laid off to Dicker, who clipped a low shot at goal, but Amos saved comfortably.
Kuszczak showed his class again early in the second half to deny Paul McKenna in spectacular fashion. The City midfielder unleashed from distance, but the former United keeper kept the ball out with a flying save to tip the ball over with a high right hand.
Albion responded with a brilliant run from Bridge who evaded two City players before releasing Noone on the left, the tricky winger delivered a brilliant cross to Mackail-Smith, whose header grazed the top of the bar.
Abdoulaye Faye's cynical challenge on Mackail-Smith brought the second yellow card of the contest. It was a heavy challenge of the Albion striker, after he had turned the former West Ham defender and broken free, and required a spell of treatment.
A superb piece of skill from Noone out-foxed Liam Rosenior and, from a central position on the edge of the area, he ended a mazy run with a curling left-footed shot which crept agonisingly wide of the left post.
Bridge, keen to get forward, delivered a telegraphed ball and Crofts getting forward into the box almost applied one his trademark headed finishes, but again the ball sailed wide, this time of the right post.
Albion were enjoying their best spell of the game, but when one move broke down the home side counter attacked. Bridge showed all his defensive qualities to brilliantly deny Koren in a one-on-one situation.
Noone was arguably lucky not to see red midway through the second half. Already in the book for one late tackle in the first half, the winger caught Rosenior late with a tackle deep into the City half. The home crowd and Rosenior pleaded for a red card, but Noone received a stern talking to from ref Stuart
Atwell for what was only his second foul of the match. Gus Poyet sensibly withdrew Noone, with Kazenga LuaLua coming on in his place.
Good work from Crofts, out wide on the right, created a half chance for Mackail-Smith, but under pressure, the striker shot wide, and with ten minutes remaining a well-worked free-kick ended with the striker stabbing an effort wide, after Bridcutt had headed back across goal.
Albion could argue they were worthy winners, they certainly didn't deserve to lose - but they went down as Hull countered late on and Albion caught napping on the right, as full-back Dudgeon got clear in space. Kuszczak raced out in an attempt to avert the danger, and clipped Dudgeon. Ref Atwell waved
play on and substitute Simpson applied the finishing touch to Dudgeon's cut back to nick the points for the home side.
Hull City: (4-4-2) Amos (GK), Rosenior, Chester, Faye (Bruce 77), Dudgeon; Stewart, McKenna, Koren, Mclean (Simpson 81); Proschwitz (Evans 73), Aluko. Subs not used: Oxley (GK), Cairney, McShane, Olofinjana.
Albion: (4-3-3) Kuszczak (GK); Bruno, Greer, El-Abd, Bridge; Bridcutt, Dicker (Agdestein 89), Crofts; Noone (LuaLua 69), Mackail-Smith, Barnes. Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Dunk, Calderon, Painter, Harley.
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Yellow Cards: Faye, McKenna (Hull City); Noone (Albion)