The most impressive streak in World Indoor Championship history was brought to a shuddering halt as the USA ended Russia's run of eight successive titles in an thrilling duel.
Russia had struck gold in each edition of the event stretching all the way back to 1995. Tonight, however, the USA quartet, anchored by three-time World outdoor 200m champion Allyson Felix, proved too strong to win by 0.19 in 3:27.25. It was, surprisingly, the USA's first ever gold medal in this event.
Perhaps the individual 400m event gave an omen as to the possible outcome of the relay after Debbie Dunn, of the US, defeated Russia's Tatyana Firova in the race for gold.
Indeed, it was Dunn who gave the US a clear lead at the end of the first leg with a 51.25 split, tracked by Jamaica and Russia, who opened with Svetlana Pospelova.
DeeDee Trotter, who was disappointed not to make the final of the individual 400m, earned some recompense with a cracking relay leg and opened up a five metre lead on Russia's two-time former individual winner Natalya Nazarova.
On the penultimate leg, the field all bunched up again as Natasha Hastings surrendered much of her advantage to Russia's third leg runner Kseniya Vdovina with Davita Prendergast also drawing Jamaica closer to the battle at the front.
The anchor leg provided an intriguing battle as the smooth-running Felix chose to control from the front with Firova tracking her every strike.
The Russian chose to bide her time and struck coming off the final bend. Firova almost drew level but Felix is a class act, she dug deep and crossed the finish line with one arm raised in triumph to land her seventh world title (at the age of 24 she has already also won six outdoor gold medals).
Jamaica anchored by the World outdoor silver medallist Novlene Williams-Mills took the bronze in a national record of 3:28.49.
Felix said of the gold medal triumph: "My team-mates made my job easy. I just wanted to make my run clear and smooth to make secure the win. It was very competitive, but I tried to run conservatively and make sure to bring the (baton) home."
A philosophical Firova added: "I have two silvers so I will travel home with good feelings. I was aware that Felix is a strong runner and I also paid attention to the Jamaicans."
Steve Landells for the IAAF