Melanin-based plumage ornaments have been shown to play an important role in male-male competition, but also influence inter-sexual communication. Consequently, ornaments may be associated with reproductive effort of both males and females. Females mated to males with larger melanin ornaments may acquire access to better territories or benefit from increased paternal care. Here we investigated whether the melanin-based breast-band of male and female Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica is a signal of information about its bearer and is associated with male and female reproductive effort. Breast-band size was a highly variable morphometric trait in both sexes, but only in males was it associated with body mass. We then assessed whether male and female breast-band size predicted maternal and paternal investment. Egg mass increased with male breast-band size, but decreased with female breast-band size. Whether females adjust maternal hormone allocation in response to their partner's ornamentation remains a contentious issue. We found that yolk testosterone and androstenedione concentrations were not predicted by male ornamentation or body mass. Finally, males with larger breast-bands provided their mates with more food, allowing those females to spend more time incubating. Reproductive effort of both parents is therefore predicted by their own and their mate's ornamentation in Bar-throated Apalis, and thus breast-band size potentially acts as a signal of reproductive performance in both sexes. These results highlight the need for more comprehensive analyses of a relationship between melanin-based ornaments and fitness, incorporating multiple behavioural variables associated with reproductive effort.