Rusty-breasted Antpitta is distributed discontinuously through the Andes from northern and western Venezuela south to western Bolivia. Like other members of the genus Grallaricula, this species is a difficult bird to observe, even with playback, as these tiny birds can be incredibly difficult to spot as they perch low and inconspicuously in the undergrowth. The plumage of Rusty-breasted Antpitta is mainly brown above and over the head, becoming distinctly warmer and more rufous over much of the face and underparts, although the belly is largely white. There is some degree of association between this species and bamboo stands, at least locally, but in general Rusty-breasted Antpitta is an inhabitant of humid montane forests below 3350 m. It has been suggested that the southernmost subspecies of the complex, G. f. leymebambae, might represent a separate species, but this recommendation requires considerable further research. Compared to other Grallaricula antpittas, the nesting biology of Rusty-breasted Antpitta is fairly well documented, differing significantly from congeners only in the gray green (rather than buff brown) ground coloration of its eggs.