Jose Ernesto Sosa's first-half strike was enough as Bayern Munich held on to beat Karlsruhe and move within one point of Bundesliga leaders Hertha Berlin.
While Berlin lost at Stuttgart to remain on 49 points, Sosa's goal in the 34th minute gave Bayern their third straight victory to move to 48 points.
Bayern were down to just one striker - Lukas Podolski - without Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose and recently departed Landon Donovan.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started Sosa in the attacking midfield position and Bayern had a number of good chances early on.
Bastian Schweinsteiger's eight-yard shot after five minutes was stopped by defender Dino Drpic's leg.
And Franck Ribery fed Schweinsteiger five minutes later, the Germany international's lofted shot got beating Karlsruhe keeper Markus Miller but striking the lower half of the crossbar.
Bayern took the lead however thanks to a fine pass from Ribery in the 34th minute.
The Frenchman worked past four Karlsruhe defenders and sent a flat cross towards the far right corner where Sosa struck first time past Miller from six yards.
Bayern had cause to be thankful when Ribery was not sent off, but only saw yellow two minutes after the break for shoving Andreas Gorlitz.
The visitors grew stronger and Bayern keeper Michael Rensing needed two fine saves against Antonio da Silva in the 53rd and 57th minutes.
Miller made an excellent save against Martin Demichelis just after the hour mark. But he was helpless against Daniel van Buyten's hammer free kick, which went just inches off target with five minutes left.
The visitors pushed forward with everything they had looking for the equaliser.
Ze Roberto headed away Michael Mutzel's shot at the goalline a minute into injury time. The ball went directly to Lars Stindl, who headed over the bar from two yards.
Bayern and Wolfsburg are now level in second place, while last-placed Karlsruhe's fifth straight defeat means they are seven points from safety.