Agriculture in Ethiopia is changing. New players, relationships, and policies are influencing the ways in which information and knowledge are used by smallholders. While this growing complexity suggests opportunities for Ethiopian smallholders, too little is known about how these opportunities can be effectively leveraged to promote pro-poor processes of rural innovation. This paper examines Ethiopia’s smallholder agricultural sector from an innovation systems perspective to understand the changing roles, responsibilities, and interactions of diverse actors in relation to smallholder livelihoods. The paper uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research tools to paint a picture of the innovation landscape at both the system and local levels. Findings suggest that public sector extension, administration, and related service providers form a closely-knit network in rural Ethiopia with the ability to influence smallholder access to knowledge and information. Given the Government of Ethiopia’s priorities of improving rural welfare by increasing market access among smallholders, these findings suggest the need for policies and programs designed to strengthen innovative capabilities among rural service providers from the public sector, and to create more space for private and civil society actors to participate in smallholder innovation networks.