Transparency has often been hailed as a golden tool to bolster citizens’ trust in government and improve public governance. However, there is a considerable disparity in theoretical reasoning and empirical findings. Through a meta-analysis of 49 studies with 436 effect sizes, this study provides novel perspectives for understanding the effect of transparency on citizens’ trust in government. To test these mechanisms, we draw on various social science theories such as agency theory, deliberative democracy theory, procedural justice theory, a disappointment effect view, and a misinformation/information overload view. The meta-analysis indicates that the overall effect of transparency on trust is positive and significant, with an average effect size being 0.13 points. The meta-regression results further show that the impact of transparency on trust is negatively moderated by computer-mediated transparency and decision-making transparency, and it varies in a non-linear pattern with the level and the color of transparency. The findings from this paper advance the theoretical development of the contextual conditions under which transparency may or may not lead to more trust in government. They also suggest helpful strategies for governments to foster a trusting relationship with their citizens.