When Chelsea scored early in both the first and second halves they seemed to be easing to victory against a disappointing Liverpool outfit, but the introduction of substitute Andy Carroll saw the Blues hanging on at the end after the former Newcastle striker reduced the deficit with half-an-hour remaining.
The Blues went ahead after 11 minutes as Ramires burst clear after a pass from the influential Juan Mata and his shot too easily beat Reds keeper Jose Reina at his near post.
The second half began in much the same pattern and when Didier Drogba collected Frank Lampardâ€™s through pass and drove the ball home it looked as if the team from West London were coasting to a win.
But the introduction of Carroll changed everything and when he pulled a goal back with a lashed left footed effort it was Chelsea who suddenly looked vulnerable.
Wave after wave of Liverpool attacks threatened to overwhelm the Blues with Carroll at the heart of everything, and with eight minutes remaining he looked to have restored parity.
The centre forwardâ€™s powerful header was clawed away by keeper Petr Cech against the inside of the post, then scrambled away to safety. The Liverpool players claimed the ball was behind the line but video replays proved inconclusive.
Still the Reds attacked but even five minutes of added time was insufficient for them to take the game into extra-time and Chelsea secured the FA Cup for the seventh time.
Referee: Phil Dowd
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Yellow cards: Mikel (CHE), Agger (LIV), Suarez (LIV)
TRIBAL ASKS: Will the clamour for goal-line technology continue after incidents like this