We document the trends and nature of an incipient demographic transition since the first Ethiopian national census in 1984, and attempt to predict the acceleration of rural fertility transition in order to meet the 2015 national population target in the total fertility rate (TFR) of 4.0 by 2015. The most reliable and comprehensive national data sources are used for both primary and secondary analysis: the fertility level and related determinants from the major national demographic surveys of 1990, 2000 and 2005. There have been marked declines in under-five mortality and urban fertility since 1990, but the rural-urban fertility gap has widened to nearly 4 children. However, we expect the lagging rural fertility decline to begin to accelerate, due to a combination of both demand and supply factors: perceived greater survival of children and reduced desire for additional children; later age at first marriage, increased girl’s secondary education, rising youth aspirations and increasing access to maternal health and family planning services. These social development factors are also being mediated in the rural context by population pressure on the land and environment, increased labor mobility and food insecurity, along with the rising cost of raising children. These factors, along with socio-cultural change, should serve as a depressant to early family formation and the initiation and timing of childbearing. Thus, the national target of reducing TFR to 4.0 by the year 2015 is within reach if greater priority and commitment are given to meeting youth life course aspirations and to improving the use and the quality of maternal health and family planning services and appropriate education.