The Nordic countries are known as frontrunners of transparency, and the EU’s transparency regime owes many of its ideals to Northern influences. Nonetheless, although perceived as a transparency-enhancing measure, none of them has adopted lobbying regulation. Assessing the Nordic parliamentary and governmental debates from the 1980s onwards, this article analyses a complex relationship between legislative transparency and regulation in the five countries. In Sweden, Denmark and Norway, lobbying regulation aims to enhance transparency about lawmakers’ activities, while the Icelandic and Finnish debates consider regulation as a way to increase information about the role lobbyists play in law-making. Although all Nordic countries exhibit varying degrees of a small country mentality where regulation would interfere with ‘informal governance’, the difference in transparency emphases is crucial.