Background Acute respiratory infection is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality among children under five years of age in Ethiopia. While facilities have been implemented to address this problem they are underused due to a lack in help-seeking behavior. This study investigates factors related to the help-seeking behavior of mothers for children with acute respiratory infection using data from the 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey. Methods Data on 11,030 children aged 0-59 months obtained through interviewing women aged 1549 years throughout Ethiopia was available. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were performed to determine which factors are related to help-seeking behavior for acute respiratory infection. Results In the two weeks prior to the survey, 773(7%) of the children were reported to have symptoms of acute respiratory infection while treatment was sought for only 209 (27.2%). The odds ratio for acute respiratory infection was 1.6 (95% CI: 1.2-2.0) for rural residence with only 25.2% of these mothers seeking help compared to 46.4% for mothers with an urban residence. Smaller family size, younger mothers' age and having had prenatal care had a statistically significant odds ratio greater than 1 for both urban and rural residences. Highest wealth index had a statistically significant odds ratio greater than 1 for rural residence only, whereas primary education or higher had a statistically significant odds ratio greater than 1 for urban residence. Conclusions Children from rural areas are more at risk for acute respiratory infection while their mothers are less likely to seek help. Nevertheless, there is also underuse of available services in urban areas. Interventions should target mothers with less education and wealth and older mothers. Expanding prenatal care among these groups would encourage a better use of available facilities and subsequently better care for their children.