We studied the distribution and habitat-use of two endemic ground birds, the Bornean ground-cuckoo Carpococcyx radiatus and the Bornean peacock-pheasant Polyplectron schleiermacheri in the Sungai Wain Protection Forest, East Kalimantan. Both species are highly elusive and neither has been subject to any in-depth study. Consequently, few data are available on their population numbers, habitat preferences and conservation status. We mapped the species' presence in five topographical habitat types, assessed their spatial distribution, and provide an estimate of population sizes in the reserve. Over a period of 44 months (1997–2003) we had 32 encounters with Bornean ground-cuckoo, and 19 encounters with Bornean peacock-pheasant. Number of encounters increased over time, but no seasonal or monthly difference was apparent in encounter rate. Both species were only observed inside the central core of the reserve. Bornean ground-cuckoo showed a clear preference for alluvial and swamp forest over high-flat, slope and ridge forest. Bornean peacock-pheasant showed no clear preference for any of these five habitat types. Considering the rapid destruction of forest occurring in Kalimantan due to illegal logging, fires, lack of law enforcement and proper management of protected areas, the conservation of these two species is discussed in relation to conservation management of the Sungai Wain Protection Forest. Teams are patrolling year-round in the reserve to halt hunting. Illegal logging has been eradicated by these patrols, in combination with tree-spiking. Fire breaks are maintained each dry season to avoid further fire damage, and extensive education and awareness work is carried out in the district.