England, 247 for two when play resumed after a second bad light stoppage, lost two wickets for three runs in nine balls as they declined to 255 for four.
Michael Vaughan, the England captain, was out for 79 when he edged left-arm quick Rudra Pratap Singh through to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
All-rounder Paul Collingwood then went for nought, plumb lbw to leg-spinner Anil Kumble.
India would have been better placed had not Andrew Strauss, who made 96, been dropped on 43. Together with Vaughan he put on 142 in 50 overs for the second wicket.
Kevin Pietersen was 34 not out at the close with Ryan Sidebottom, the nightwatchman, unbeaten on nought.
Strauss, who'd warmed up for this match by making 80 against India last weekend while captaining England Lions, made no attempt to hide his disappointment at getting out.
"It was a pretty frustrating walk back to the dressing room. I would have taken 96 at the start of the day. The wicket was probably a little bit quicker than a lot of Lord's wickets and it wasn't necessarily easy," he said.
"Hopefully we can go on and get 450, 500, and have a bowl at the Indians tomorrow (Friday) afternoon."
Strauss, who had been struggling for runs this season until making 77 against the West Indies in the fourth Test at Riverside last month and was dropped from England's one-day squad, added: "Having faced the Indians last week got me into a little bit of form. It was hard work. It was not a free-flowing innings by any means.
"I felt as relaxed and as positive I have for a long time. I was feeling a little jaded after the Durham Test match, just because we've been doing it for 18 months non-stop.
"It's not physical, it's just the stresses and strains of playing international cricket can wear you down and you also get worn down by not being in great form."
India's novice pace attack initially struggled after Vaughan won the toss and it was left to the experienced pair of Sourav Ganguly (one wicket for 24 runs in nine overs) and Kumble (two for 56 in 22) to dismiss left-handers Alastair Cook and Strauss.
"I think the Indians stuck at it pretty well. Kumble to get two wickets on the first day, when there was nothing really there for him, was a very good effort," said Strauss.
India manager Chandu Borde was pleased by his players' resilience.
"There are butterflies initially but they came back beautifully in the evening," he said.
"Every session after the first they were improving. After lunch we curtailed the run rate quite nicely and they bowled a nice line and length."
Strauss, closing in on what would have been his 11th Test hundred and fourth in eight Tests at Lord's, fell to Kumble when, going down the pitch, he played defensively, seemingly in a bid to counter a stumping chance, and edged to India captain Rahul Dravid at slip.
He batted for four hours and 25 minutes facing 186 balls with 16 fours.
When Singh came round the wicket, after a couple of bad light stoppages, he had Vaughan caught behind, after the skipper had faced 201 balls with 11 fours.
Strauss, batting on his Middlesex home ground, enjoyed a lucky break when an uppish square drive off Sreesanth went straight to point where Dinesh Karthik dropped the catch after apparently failing to sight the ball.
Borde said: "I have also dropped a few catches here, it is just one of those things. He (Karthik) was feeling sorry about it."
Earlier, Strauss and Cook posted a fifty stand in 52 balls before medium-pacer Ganguly, the fourth bowler used, broke the partnership when he had Cook lbw for 36 with his fourth ball with a swinging delivery to leave England 76 for one in the 15th over.
England gave a Test debut to 6ft 7in Hampshire quick Chris Tremlett, included after Matthew Hoggard was ruled out with a back problem.