Andean uplift contributed importantly to the build-up of high Neotropical diversity. Final uplift of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia separated once-contiguous lowland faunas east and west of the Andes between 5 and 3.5 million years ago (Ma hereafter). We used DNA sequences from several moderate- to fast-evolving mitochondrial and two slow-evolving nuclear genes to generate a well-supported phylogeny of Dendrocincla woodcreepers, a genus with multiple species endemic to lowland regions both east and west of the Andes. A time-calibrated phylogeny and dispersal–vicariance analysis indicated that uplift of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia resulted in the initial vicariant separation of a widespread lowland form east and west of the Andes at c. 3.6 Ma. This was followed by two separate east-to-west dispersal events over or around the completed Andes, each producing a genetically distinct lineage. Our analysis suggests that Andean uplift promoted the build-up of biodiversity in lowland Neotropical faunas both through vicariance-based speciation during uplift and through dispersal-based speciation following uplift. In contrast to the multiple colonizations of the trans-Andean region by Dendrocincla, the Atlantic Forest was colonized from the Amazon only once, followed by in situ diversification.