Crushed 5-0 in the Ashes series and thumped in the first one-dayer in Melbourne, England sensed the chance of securing their first win over Australia on the tour after Eoin Morgan's sparkling 106 powered them to a commanding 300 for eight.
Australia made a feeble start to their chase but Shaun Marsh contributed 55 before Glenn Maxwell (54) and Faulkner (69 not out) provided the late surge that took the hosts past the victory target with three balls to spare.
Needing 25 runs from the last two overs with number 11 batsman Clint McKay keeping him company, Faulkner blasted back-to-back sixes off Ben Stokes and stole a single off the last delivery of the penultimate over.
Facing Tim Bresnan in the final over and still needing 12 runs, Faulkner hammered three fours in a row to trigger
A Cook c & b Maxwell 22
I Bell run out Clarke 68
J Root lbw b Johnson 2
G Ballance st Haddin b Maxwell 9
E morgan c Clarke b Faulkner 106
R Bopara c Bailey b Faulkner 24
J Buttler c Clarke b Coulter-Nile 49
B Stokes c Maxwell b Coulter-Nile 0
T Bresnan not out 1
C Jordan not out 2
Total: (8 wickets; 50 overs) 300
Fall of wickets: 1-57 2-60 3-78 4-139 5-178 6-295 7-296 8-297
D Warner c & b Jordan 18
A Finch c Ballance b Jordan 0
S Marsh b Root 55
M Clarke c Ballance b Root 17
G Bailey lbw b Rankin 24
G Maxwell c Bopara b Bresnan 54
B Haddin c Cook b Bresnan 26
N Coulter-Nile lbw Stokes 16
J Faulkner not out 69
M Johnson c Butler b Bopara 1 C McKay not out 2
Total: (9 wickets; 49.3 overs) 301
Fall of wickets: 1-6 2-32 3-70 4-114 5-120 6-200 7-206 8-325 9-244
wild celebrations around the ground.
Faulkner remained unbeaten after his 47-ball blitz studded with three fours and five sixes.
"He is the new finisher, the new Michael Bevan," Australia captain Michael Clarke said in a televised interview.
"He showed he is a wonderful player with loads of talent and he strikes the ball as cleanly as anybody ... he deserves all the credit in the world."
Australia lead the five-match series 2-0 going into the next game in Sydney on Sunday.
After Alastair Cook opted to bat first, Morgan teamed up with Jos Buttler (49) to plunder 117 runs in 11.2 overs and help England post a competitive total against an Australian attack boosted by the return of Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson.
Batting on one, Morgan was caught off Clarke at deep midwicket but the 27-year-old left-hander had the presence of mind to point out there was one extra fielder outside the ring and get the delivery adjudged a no-ball.
He went on to complete his first fifty in 70 balls and took only 24 balls for his next fifty, hitting five of his six sixes during that stage.
The Dublin-born player brought up his sixth ODI century in spectacular fashion, bending backwards to guide a short Nathan Coulter-Nile delivery over the wicketkeeper's head for a boundary.
Morgan's 99-ball knock ended in the 50th over when he miscued a Faulkner delivery but England milked 104 runs from then final 10 overs to post an imposing total.
When they returned, Gary Ballance took a one-handed catch to send back Aaron Finch, who followed his Melbourne century with a three-ball duck.
Chris Jordan then caught a full-blooded shot from David Warner (18) off his own bowling to deny Australia a flying start.
Maxwell refused to give up, however, adding 80 runs with Brad Haddin (26) in just over eight overs to rekindle the hosts' hopes before Faulkner made sure they materialised.
"It took an unbelievable innings to beat us today," Cook said.
"Three hundred was defendable ... It's an emotional dressing-room now, a tough place to be, but when we look at it tomorrow we'll realise it was an astonishing innings that beat us."