Gloucester were missing eight players in all and the absence of Henry Paul and Duncan McRae through international duty and injury took its toll.
McRae's replacement, Brad Davies, was strong in the tackle but the 21-year-old struggled with his kicking costing Gloucester two vital first-half penalties.
For Wasps, they may have had England's World Cup winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson – an unusual privilege ahead of an England international – but the London side uncharacteristically failed to string together any form of stinging attack in the first half.
Wasps also had their chances between the posts but young winger Edd Thrower, taking over kicking duties from the injured Alex King, also missed the target to leave both sides without any points before the break.
But it was Wasps who finally emerged dominant after the restart with Mark Van Gisbergen setting up a more confident looking Wasps attack.
The fullback offloaded to James Brooks, before Peter Richards set up Simon Shaw – who carried the ball over the line.
Van Gisbergen converted although Gloucester soon added some points of their own with England Sevens captain Simon Amor steadying the ship with a much needed penalty.
But Wasps' winger Ayoola Erinle soon made a mockery of the home side's defence with a magical break which saw him sidestep three players to touch down.
Van Gisbergen again converted but the score clearly rattled the Kingsholm outfit's cage.
Gloucester, making the most of 14-man Wasps after Trevor Leota's yellow card, wore down Wasps' defence and powerhouse Adam Balding finally sneaked out of a ruck to score.
Amor converted but the two penalties from Van Gisbergen looked to have put Wasps out of reach.
A Thrower injury-time try confirmed Gloucester's fate and ended their 12-month unbeaten record at home in the league – despite an 84th-minute last-gasp Amor try.
For Gloucester:Tries: Amor, BaldingCons: Amor 2Pen: Amor
For London Wasps:Tries: Erinle, Shaw, ThrowerCons: Van Gisbergen 3Pens: Van Gisbergen 3