Nafissatou Thiam deposed Jessica Ennis-Hill as the Olympic heptathlon champion despite the Briton's superb 800 metre victory in the final event.
Belgium's Thiam had taken a slender advantage of five points from 2012 gold medallist Ennis-Hill after jumping a personal best 6.58 metres in the long jump in Saturday's morning session in Rio.
And the 21-year-old, who was 11th at last year's World Championships in Beijing, cemented her lead with another personal best in the javelin, recording a huge 53.13m to take a 142-point lead.
That meant Ennis-Hill needed a huge turnaround in the 800m and, although she stormed to victory in a season's best of two minutes and 9.07 seconds, Thiam's time of 2:16.54 was enough to maintain first place and secure her place atop the podium with 6810 points to her Ennis-Hill's 6775.
Canada's Brianne Theisen-Eaton, silver medallist at the past two World Championships, was third heading into the final event and maintained her place on the podium after running a season's best time of 2:09.50.
It was a fully deserved victory for Thiam, who recorded five personal bests from the seven events en route to gold, including the 800m.
Ennis-Hill was aiming to defend the title she won four years ago at her home Olympics in London.
She also won World Championship gold in 2015, after returning to athletics following the birth of her first child, and put up a valiant effort to take silver on this occasion.
Compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson was one of the pre-Games favourites for gold and was third with two events remaining.
However, a poor javelin result - in which she managed a distance of just 36.36 metres - left her well off the pace and she finished sixth.