Forest corridors are often considered the main instrument with which to offset the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation. Brazilian forestry legislation requires that all riparian zones on private landholdings be maintained as permanent reserves and sets fixed minimum widths of riparian forest buffers to be retained alongside rivers and perennial streams. We investigated the effects of corridor width and degradation status of 37 riparian forest sites (including 24 corridors connected to large source-forest patches, 8 unconnected forest corridors, and 5 control riparian zones embedded within continuous forest patches) on bird and mammal species richness in a hyper-fragmented forest landscape surrounding Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso, Brazil. We used point-count and track-sampling methodology, coupled with an intensive forest-quality assessment that combined satellite imagery and ground truthed data. Vertebrate use of corridors was highly species-specific, but broad trends emerged depending on species life histories and their sensitivity to disturbance. Narrow and/or highly disturbed riparian corridors retained only a depauperate vertebrate assemblage that was typical of deforested habitats, whereas wide, well-preserved corridors retained a nearly complete species assemblage. Restriction of livestock movement along riparian buffers and their exclusion from key areas alongside deforested streams would permit corridor regeneration and facilitate restoration of connectivity.