The southeastern representative of the genus Hylopezus is endemic to the Atlantic Forest of southeast Brazil, adjacent easternmost Paraguay, and northeastern Argentina. Like most antpittas, the Speckle-breasted Antpitta is usually first located by virtue of its mildly ‘haunting’ song, a short, evenly paced series of whistled notes lasting approximately 2.5 seconds. It occupies the ground and low levels of humid and montane forests. In this region, there is only one other Grallariidae, the much larger bodied Variegated Antpitta (Grallaria varia), although the very long-looking legs of the present species (relative to its body size) should be taken into account when comparing them. The Speckle-breasted Antpitta has dull brown upperparts, whilst the underparts are largely pale, albeit streaked and blotched with dark markings, especially over the breast and flanks. This species and the vocally very distinct White-browed Antpitta (Hylopezus ochroleucus) of northeast Brazil, where until very recently considered to be conspecifics.