Two subspecies recognized:
humboldti, described as Pteroglossus Humboldti Wagler 1827; type locality "Brazil", restricted to Teffé [= Tefé], Amazonas, Brazil by Gyldenstolpe (1951).
Occurs in western Amazonia, east to the Rio Madeira (central Brazil).
Differs from nominate inscriptus by having the mandible almost entirely black; the tibial feathers are more cinnamon or rufous; and in larger size (see Measurements) (Haffer 1974, Short and Horne 2001). Intergrades with inscriptus along the Rio Madeira, Brazil (Haffer 1974). Pteroglossus didymus Sclater 1890, recognized by Peters (1948) as a subspecies, now is considered to be a junior synonym of humboldti, representing either individual variants or subadults that lack the "letter" markings along the bill (Friedmann 1958, Borrero 1959, Traylor 1958, Haffer 1974).
inscriptus, described as Pteroglossus inscriptus Swainson 1822; type locality Interior of Guiana; erroneous, Pará, Brazil designated as type locality by Hellmayr 1910)
Occurs in eastern Amazonia, south of the Amazon east of the Rio Madeira, and in northeastern Brazil.