Background: Nursing turnover is a very serious problem, and nursing managers need to be aware of how ethical climates are associated with turnover intention. Objectives: The article explored the effects of ethical climates on nurses’ turnover intention, mediated through trust in their organization. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 285 nurses from three Indian hospitals was conducted to test the research model. Various established Likert-type scales were used to measure ethical climates, turnover intention and trust in organization. Hierarchical regression analysis and mediation analysis were used to test the model. Results: Hierarchical regression analysis and mediation analysis were used to test the model. The indirect effect of benevolent ethical climate on turnover intention through trust in organization was –0.20 with a 95% bootstrap confidence interval of lower level = –0.31 and upper level = –0.01. The indirect effect of principled ethical climate on turnover intention through trust in organization was –0.39 with a 95% bootstrap confidence interval of lower level = –0.58 and upper level = –0.17. Ethical considerations: The study adheres to the ethical standards recommended by the American Psychological Association for conducting research with informed consent, confidentiality and privacy. Conclusion: Both benevolent and principled ethical climates decreased turnover intention indirectly through trust in organization. Only principled ethical climates were directly associated with turnover intention. Our results suggest that nurse managers and leaders should try and establish principled and benevolent climates in order to engender trust in organization and to reduce turnover intention. © The Author(s) 2020.