The purple-bellied lory is 26 cm (10 in) long. It is mostly red with black on top of head, green wings, and purple underparts. Its thighs are purple and its legs are dark grey. Its tail is red with dark green-blue at the tip. Its cere is white. The eyerings are grey and the irises are orange-red. The three subspecies differ with slightly different plumage colours.
Species (taxonomy note: * indicates taxa that may classified as a subspecies of the Rainbow lorikeet or a separate species)
(extinctions: † indicates a species confirmed to be extinct, ₴ indicates evidence only from sub-fossils)