Adaptation to local conditions can increase species’ geographic distributions and rates of diversification, but which components of the environment commonly drive local adaptation—particularly the importance of biotic interactions—is unclear. Biotic interactions should drive local adaptation when they impose consistent divergent selection; if this is common, we expect transplant experiments to detect more frequent and stronger local adaptation when biotic interactions are left intact. We tested this hypothesis using a meta-analysis of transplant experiments from >125 studies (mostly of plants). Overall, local adaptation was common, and biotic interactions affected fitness. Nevertheless, local adaptation was neither more common nor stronger when biotic interactions were left intact, either between experimental treatments within studies (control vs. biotic interactions experimentally manipulated) or between studies that used natural versus biotically altered transplant environments. However, the effect of ameliorating negative interactions varied with latitude, suggesting that interactions may promote local adaptation more often in tropical than in temperate ecosystems, although few tropical studies were available to test this. Our results suggest that biotic interactions often fail to drive local adaptation even though they strongly affect fitness, perhaps because temperate biotic environments are unpredictable at the spatiotemporal scales required for local adaptation.