Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan scored Dortmund's first-half winner which lifted them to 14th ahead of the weekend's other matches.
This was a much more polished performance from Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund, who have already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League but have been in poor form domestically.
The victory offers last season's runners-up some respite after losing seven of their last 10 league games. It was only their fourth win in the league this season, 14 games into the campaign.
"The boys did really well from the beginning, it was a deserved win, but no more than that, it has to continue from here," said a relieved Klopp.
"The big thing to take is that we are able to score goals and not concede them," he added after Dortmund managed just two goals in their last four games.
There was more good news for Borussia as their captain, German international centre-back Mats Hummels, made his return after missing the last five games with a sprained ankle.
Hummels marked his return with a key clearing header at the start of the second half.
The defeat leaves Hoffenheim still seventh in the table, but Markus Gisdol's side can have no complaints after managing just six shots at goal compared to Dortmund's 19.
Klopp sprang a surprise before kick-off when he opted for Australian Mitchell Langerak over Germany's Roman Weidenfeller in goal.
The Socceroos shot-stopper has been used as an understudy since joining Dortmund in 2010 and only previously played when World Cup-winner Weidenfeller had been either injured or rested.
But with Dortmund having dropped to the bottom of the Bundesliga before kick-off, Klopp opted to give Langerak only his 12th appearance in the German top flight.
Weidenfeller was left on the bench along with Japan's ex-Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa.
Klopp had described the Hoffenheim clash as 'High Noon' for his team as they looked to bounce back from a dire run of league results and his side were quickest on the draw.
Gundogan, who only recently returned from a long-term back injury, scored his first goal since the 2013 Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich when he headed home Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross after just 17 minutes.
Gabon winger Aubameyang was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself as he had two goals disallowed for marginal offside calls and then hit the post in the second half.
Dortmund's win sees Hamburg, who host Mainz on Sunday, drop to the bottom of the table.