Golden-breasted Puffleg is resident in the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. In Colombia it occurs in the Central Andes, north to Caldas, and in the Western Andes north only to Nariño (Meyer de Schauensee 1949, Hilty and Brown 1986). There also are trade skins labelled as from "Bogotá", but these probably originated from the Central Andes; there are confirmed localities in the Eastern Andes (Bleiweiss 1988). Golden-breasted Puffleg also occurs on both slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, south to Pichincha in western Ecuador, and south regularly to western Napo (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a); there also are a few reports south to western Morona-Santiago (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a).
The elevational range of Golden-breasted Puffleg in Colombia is 1200-3600 m, but it usually occurs above 2600 m (Hilty and Brown 1986); in Parque Nacional Puracé, the elevational distribution is "chiefly" 2900-3300 m (Hilty and Brown 1986). In Ecuador it occurs "mostly" from 3000-3600 m (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). Golden-breasted Puffleg may have seasonal elevational movements (Hilty and Brown 1986, Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990), but such movements are not yet documented.