WATCH: A brilliant Sean Clare goal, some poor defending and was it a penalty? Highlights of Sheffield Wednesday 2 Aston Villa 4
Sean Clare scored his first senior Owls goal to put Wednesday in front but that was soon cancelled out by Lewis Grabbon scrambling in after the home side failed to deal with a header initially saved by Joe Wildsmith.
Lucas Joao's bullet header gave Wednesday the lead again just before half time and the Owls were more than good for their advantage at that stage.
However, Villa upped their game after the break and had Wednesday penned in. Glenn Whelan returned to Hillsborough and scored his first goal in seven years to equalise.
Conor Hourihane then gave the visitors the lead for the first time with just a few minutes to go. Robert Snodgrass gave the scoreline a gloss Villa didn't deserve when he won a penalty after being barged into by Daniel Pudil and the Scot fired in from the spot.
Wednesday boss Jos Luhukay said of the match: "I think it was a very interesting game. We had a fantastic first half. We made good goals and we had two or three very good chances to come in more comfortable at half-time.
"In the second half, we lost that little bit of control we had in the first half and Aston Villa became stronger in this situation. At 2-2, we could have scored two times to make it 3-2. But when I look to what we have done today, we had good chances to come in with a better result at the end.
"It was a very good atmosphere, was a good game and there are goals. Not in a positive way for us at the end, but we can take a lot of positive things from this game. We know we must defend better, we know we didn't have luck on our side today."
Villa boss Steve Bruce added: "I thought it was a very, very good game. I thought we were very, very open in the first half, which we addressed better in the second half. But overall, if you come to Hillsborough and score four times, then you deserve to win."