Extractive reserves are conservation units that are concurrently expected to sustain subsistence and cash economies of reserve residents, often through use of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) has been central to many Amazonian reserves and resident livelihoods therein, due to its basin-wide distribution, significance in global markets, and potential for sustainable use and forest conservation. Yet, do the benefits of this and other NTFPs extend to all extractive reserve residents? A livelihood survey, structured interviews, and Brazil nut inventories from 2008 to 2010, randomly sampling the widely dispersed households and corresponding forests across the three regions of Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve (RDAER), revealed significant social and ecological heterogeneity among RDAER regions. There were differences in Brazil nut stand access, individual tree characteristics (including crown form and marginally, and fruit production), stand and tree management, multiple household characteristics that shape resident investment and dependence on NTFPs, and the contribution of Brazil nut to forest-based income. If Brazil nut and other NTFPs are to reconcile conservation and development in forest communities, then policies to regulate and promote NTFP use must integrate the socioecological heterogeneity inherent in these forest products and within reserve polygons.