Mr Macron won 23.7%, while Ms Le Pen won 21.7%, French TV says.
The two saw off a strong challenge from centre-right François Fillon and the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, according to the projections.
The pair now face a run-off vote on 7 May.
Whoever wins the next round, the voting marks a shift away from the left and centre-right parties that have long dominated French politics.
Turnout nationally appears to be similar to the last election in 2012.