Skipper Ian Murray's first goal of the season earned Hibs all three points as Motherwell crashed to a fifth straight defeat.
Despite dominating possession, Hibs created few clear-cut chances as their neat passing play failed to make the final breakthrough.
But Murray powered a 79th minute header beyond veteran goalkeeper Gordon Marshall as Hibs grabbed all three points with a more direct approach.
Gary Caldwell twice cleared Motherwell shots off the line but even a point would probably have been more than struggling Well deserved.
After just 45 seconds, Steven Hammell brushed Colin Murdock aside and cut into the box but his angled shot was deflected away for a corner.
In the seventh minute, Hibs kept possession well and eventually worked the ball to Craig Rocastle, whose cross from the right fell to Steven Fletcher but the teenager failed to get any real power in his shot.
Hibs were controlling possession and stringing passes together and, after 11 minutes, Stephen Glass found space on the left to fire in a cross but Derek Riordan just failed to control the ball with only Marshall to beat.
Riordan had another chance after 18 minutes when Dean Shiels' headed flick from a Fletcher cross found him in space in front of goal but his snapshot was straight at Marshall.
After 41 minutes, Alex Burns broke out of defence and released David Clarkson who made ground up the left. He found Paul Quinn on the right and although Caldwell half-cleared his first cross, the ball only got as far as Paterson whose effort was deflected just wide of his own goal by Caldwell.
A minute from the break, a stray Motherwell clearance fell to Glass wide on the left and he hit it first time from 22 yards but Marshall held it diving to his left.
Five minutes into the second half Burns twisted and turned to leave Murdock sprawling on the turf but, with plenty of time and space, shot well wide.
Well should have been ahead in the 63rd minute when Martyn Corrigan sprung the Hibs' offside trap to latch on to a Craigan through ball. He squared to substitute Marc Fitzpatrick who beat Simon Brown but not Caldwell who raced back to hook it clear over the bar.
After 71 minutes, Guillaume Beuzelin came close with a bulleted header from a Riordan corner that flew wide from inside the six yard box.
Hibs finally got the winner they just about deserved in the 79th minute when Glass fired in a deep cross from the left and Murray connected perfectly to power a header beyond Marshall.