Concerns about the transparency of aid have become more prominent against a recent backdrop of donor commitments to increase aid effectiveness. Innovative approaches to providing more and better information about aid have been developed. This article explores the contemporary focus on aid transparency in the context of longer-standing concerns over accountable aid. It finds that the links between inputs, outputs and impacts in aid transparency and accountability initiatives are often not articulated or well-understood, and that the link between aid transparency and accountable aid is barely addressed. Future attempts to develop effective aid TAIs need to take full account of the diverse motivations, approaches and actors implicated in their – often implicit – theories of change, in particular the citizens of aid-recipient countries.