The male stands up to 110 cm (3.5 feet), the female is up to 90 cm (3 feet) tall. The male has loosely spiraled horns and a long fringe on throat and underparts; the female has no horns and no noticeable fringe. The male is dark brown, white on the face and neck, with vertical white stripes on the body. The female is reddish brown with white vertical striping.
The rare mountain nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni) is limited to central Ethiopia. While superficially similar to the lowland nyala, it is now considered more closely related to the kudu.
The name "nyala" is the Swahili name for this antelope, which itself comes from the Zulu "inyala". The Latin name comes from "tragos" (he-goat), "elaphos" (deer), and George French Angas of South Australia.