Rory Kleinveldt rifled an incredible 128 from just 63 balls but Northants fell just short in their bid to complete one of the most remarkable run chases in history.
The Steelbacks had been set a gargantuan 446 to win after Nottinghamshire finished their 50 overs on 445 for eight at Trent Bridge.
The home side had got off to a flyer in the Royal London One-Day Cup opener, with Michael Lumb and Riki Wessels racking up an opening partnership worth a staggering 342 runs.
The Steelbacks did eventually start to stem the flow and Josh Cobb took three for 53 from his six overs as Nottinghamshire were kept below the 450 mark.
It still needed a near miracle for Northants to win the match from there, but they set about their task manfully, with Cobb and Adam Rossington getting them up and running.
Rossington went on the rampage and he eventually fell just three runs short of his century after facing 69 deliveries.
Steven Crook and Kleinveldt then took on the task of keeping the Steelbacks in contention, with the former making 48 from 40 balls before falling to Harry Gurney.
Kleinveldt just kept going though as he blasted the ball to all parts of the ground.
Onlookers could barely believe what they were seeing as he made his way to a hundred in just 45 balls and continued to wreak havoc.
But Luke Fletcher eventually got rid of the South African star and Graeme White, who had made a fine 40 from 32, also fell soon after.
That left Ben Sanderson and Muhammad Azharullah in the middle, with doubts over whether Richard Levi would be able to bat due to a hand injury.
But after Azharullah was run out with Northants still needing 29 from 18 balls, Levi emerged.
He smashed a six from the second ball he faced, but couldn’t complete the job, as Gurney yorked him to bring an end to a memorable match.
The match aggregate of 870 runs was the second highest in one-day cricket history, only second to the historic chase of 438 by South Africa against Australia in 2006.