Pakistan seamers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif each claimed three wickets as Australia were reduced to 229-9 on the opening day of the first neutral Test to be staged at Lord's since 1912.
The two-match series is being held on English soil, at Lord's and Headingley next week, due to the uncertain security situation in Pakistan that has prevented any international cricket taking place in the country since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked by gun-toting terrorists in Lahore in March 2009.
Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi - leading his country for the first time in the five-day format - chose to bowl first when play got under way an hour late, and under leaden skies, following morning rain.
Aamer struck twice during an impressive spell of swing bowling with the new ball. The teenage paceman had Shane Watson (4) bowled via his pad shouldering arms.
And, after a brief delay for bad light and an early lunch, Ricky Ponting, having struck four boundaries in reaching 26 to move past Brian Lara into second on the all-time list of Test run scorers behind Sachin Tendulkar, was brilliantly held at short-leg by Umar Amin off the full face of the bat.
Aamer reacted to the wicket of Australia's captain by running through to celebrate right in his face and Ponting, clearly not amused, bumped elbows as he made his way towards the dressing room.
Australia, however, looked to have weathered the early storm as New South Wales pair Simon Katich and Michael Clarke batted throughout most of the afternoon to compile a third-wicket stand of 120.
Katich, who had been fortunate to survive an early lbw shout from Aamer, brought up his 23rd Test half-century from 117 balls, including five fours.
But Asif (3-53) claimed three wickets in seven balls either side of tea to derail Australia's hopes of a big first-innings score.
He had Clarke lbw for 47 with the final ball of the middle session and then, in his first over after the break, produced a fine seaming delivery to take Katich's outside edge and send the left-hander back to the pavilion for 80.
Marcus North twice looked to be lbw before being bowled for a three-ball duck to leave Australia on 174-5.
And the lower order subsided quickly, debut wicketkeeper Tim Paine (7) giving his opposite number Kamran Akmal a simple catch off Umar Gul (1-24) and fellow new cap Steve Smith going lbw for one to Danish Kaneria's leg-spin, although replays indicated he had got a thin inside edge.
Kaneria (2-49) added the scalp of Mitchell Johnson (3) and Aamer (3-66) returned to bowl Ben Hilfenhaus (1) before bad light brought a premature end to a day featuring just 70 overs.
Michael Hussey, unbeaten on 39, will resume on the second morning with just last man Doug Bollinger (0no) for company.
Pakistan, who have lost their last 12 Tests in a row against Australia dating back to 1999, also named two debutants in their starting line-up, batsmen Azhar Ali and Amin.