Aim/purpose – Theoretical arguments about the impact of corruption on economic growth have divided economists into two groups. The first one believes that corruption is an obstruction to economic growth and development while the second – that corruption plays a positive role in the development process. Therefore, the arguments on the effects of corruption on economic growth are inconclusive. This study investigates the effects of corruption on economic growth as measured in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita growth in Nigeria and India due to the pervasive corruption in the two low-income countries. Design/methodology/approach – The study employed Mo’s framework (2001) for investigating corruption and growth mechanism. The data for the study which covered 1980-2015 was extracted from the World Bank data repository. Corruption was measured by the Corruption Perception Index. Other variables are population growth rate, trade openness, education and the output of agriculture, industry and service sectors. Correlation coefficients were used to show a correlation between corruption and GDP growth rate for both countries. Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression was used to estimate the effects of corruption on economic growth. Findings – The major findings of the study are: (1) Corruption has a stifling effect on economic growth when the measures of human capital, political instability and capital formation were not included in the estimation for India; (2) Corruption has a positive effect on economic growth when the measures of human capital, political instability and capital formation were included interchangeably and combined together in the estimation for India; (3) Corruption has a stifling effect on economic growth when the measures of human capital, political instability and capital formation were both included and excluded in the estimation for Nigeria; and (4) The transmission mechanism results show that corruption adversely affects economic growth through investment and human capital in both countries. Research implications/limitations – The implications of this study are that corruption produces a dampening effect on growth in both countries and the transmission channels were through investment and human capital. The limitation of the study has to do with the data. A better measure of corruption aside corruption perception index may produce different results. Originality/value/contribution – The unique contribution of the study is the investigation of the channel through which corruption affects economic growth in India and Nigeria.