Leclerc produced two laps good enough for pole but was briefly usurped by Verstappen in a thrilling end to Friday qualifying, only for the newly-crowned world champion to have his best lap deleted for running wide at Turn 19.
That handed pole back to Leclerc, with the Ferrari driver topping qualifying for the first time since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix back in April.
McLaren’s Lando Norris turned in a stunning late lap to pip fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton to the front of the grid with an effort just 0.009s faster than what the seven-time world champion managed in his upgraded Mercedes.
Carlos Sainz was fourth in the other Ferrari, ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, who recovered well from a difficult qualifying to secure fifth place on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
Verstappen’s costly error on an uncharacteristically scruffy lap means he has work to do from sixth if he is to claim his 50th grand prix victory in Austin.
The Alpine pair of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon managed to outqualify Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who failed to find a breakthrough to his inconsistent Saturday form.
Oscar Piastri completed the top-10 in his McLaren.
A lap time deletion for exceeding track limits left Daniel Ricciardo 15th on his return to action with AlphaTauri, having missed the past five races with a broken hand.
It was a disastrous qualifying session for Aston Martin, who suffered a shock double Q1 elimination despite bringing a floor upgrade to Austin.
Fernando Alonso could only set a lap good enough for 17th as he failed to reach Q3 for the first time this year.
The two-time world champion was only quicker than Alex Albon’s Williams, his teammate Lance Stroll - who exited Q1 for the fifth straight race - and home favourite Logan Sargeant in the other Williams.