Darren Pattinson was the dominant force in the Notts bowling attack, taking 5-22 on his debut, as Kent slipped to 162 all out on the opening day.
Martin van Jaarsveld, Matthew Walker and Darren Stevens all went for ducks but captain Robert Key led the resistance, reaching 79 before Charlie Shreck had him lbw.
Graeme Swann and Will Jefferson both took catches in the slips to help maintain Notts’ momentum and Chris Read caught fellow wicket keeper Geraint Jones behind the stumps.
Will Jefferson scored Notts’ first run of the season after taking to the field in a new look opening partnership with Matt Wood.
Kent bowler Yassir Arafat dismissed the Notts openers but Mark Wagh (52) and Samit Patel (23) finished the day undefeated to bring the visitors to 121 for 3.