Cross-sectional survey for Newcastle disease (ND) were conducted in nonvaccinated household flocks of village chickens to assess serological and virological ND status in households and associated live bird markets. In total, 1,899 sera and 460 pools of cloacal and tracheal swabs were sampled and tested using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), respectively. Additionally, paired cloacal and tracheal swabs from 1,269 individual chickens were collected from markets and tested using RT-PCR. The prevalence of households with at least one seropositive chicken was higher during the dry season (27.4 %) than during the wet season (17.4 %) (P = 0.003). Viral genome was detected in 14.2 % of households during the wet season using a fusion (F) gene assay and in 24.2 % of households during the dry season using a polymerase (L) gene assay that targets both class I and class II viruses. At the markets sampled, overall bird level prevalence was 4.9 % for period 1 (F gene assay), and 38.2 % and 27.6 % for periods 2 and 3, respectively (L gene assay). Partial sequencing of the F gene (239 bp) cleavage site indicated that the majority of the circulating strains exhibited motifs specific to virulent strains. Seroepidemiology coupled with molecular analysis can be a useful tool to assess the status of NDV infection. The village chicken population in Ethiopia is endemically infected with virulent NDV that pose a significant threat to emerging small- and medium-scale commercial poultry production.