Although there are differences between individuals as well as between the sexes and across age groups, C. xanthosternos is described as having a distinctive yellow to golden red chest, belly and upper arms. Its face is a light brown and its cap for which the capuchins were first named is a dark brown/black or light brown. Formerly thought to be a subspecies of tufted capuchin (C. apella), it was elevated to the status of species. Despite this previous classification, C. xanthosternos does not have very evident tufts, as they are oriented towards the rear of the skull and are hardly noticeable. A band of short hair around the upper part of the face with speckled colouring contrasts with the darker surrounding areas. The limbs and tail are also darkly coloured.
Populations of C. xanthosternos are restricted to the Atlantic forest of south-eastern Bahia, Brazil, due possibly to high degrees of interference from man. Historically they probably would have inhabited the entire area east of, and north to, the Rio São Francisco.
The largest continuous area of forest in its known range, the Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, is estimated to contain a population of 185 individuals. As of 2004, there were 85 individuals in zoos and breeding facilities in Europe and Brazil.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 138. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Kierulff, M. C. M., Mendes, S. L. & Rylands, A. B. (2008). "Cebus xanthosternos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- Groves, Colin P. (2001). Primate Taxonomy. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-872-X.
- Mittermeier, R. A., Rylands, A. B., and Coimbra Filho, A, F. 1998, systematics: Species and Subspecies, an update. Ecology and Behaviour of Neotropical Primates, Volume 2. World Wide Fund. pp 13-75
- Coimbra Filho, A. F., Ryland, A. B., Pissinatti, A., Santos, I. B. 1991/1992, The Distribution and Conservation of the buff headed Capuchin Monkey, Cebus xanthosternos, In the Atlantic Forest Region of Eastern Brazil. Primate Conservation 12-13, 24-30.
- Maria Cecilia M. Kierulff, Jean-Marc Lernould, William R. Konstant, Gustavo Canale, Gabriel Rodrigues dos Santos, Carlos Eduardo Guidorizzi & Camila Cassano (2004). "Yellow-Breasted Capuchin, Cebus xanthosternos". IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.