Transition-region explosive events (EEs) are characterized by non-Gaussian line profiles with enhanced wings at Doppler velocities of 50–150 km s−1. They are believed to be the signature of solar phenomena that are one of the main contributors to coronal heating. The aim of this study is to investigate the link of EEs to dynamic phenomena in the transition region and chromosphere in an active region. We analyse observations simultaneously taken by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) in the Si iv 1394 Å line and the slit-jaw (SJ) 1400 Å images, and the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope in the Hα line. In total 24 events were found. They are associated with small-scale loop brightenings in SJ 1400 Å images. Only four events show a counterpart in the Hα−35 km s−1 and Hα+35 km s−1 images. Two of them represent brightenings in the conjunction region of several loops that are also related to a bright region (granular lane) in the Hα−35 km s−1 and Hα+35 km s−1 images. 16 are general loop brightenings that do not show any discernible response in the Hα images. Six EEs appear as propagating loop brightenings, from which two are associated with dark jet-like features clearly seen in the Hα−35 km s−1 images. We found that chromospheric events with jet-like appearance seen in the wings of the Hα line can trigger EEs in the transition region and in this case the IRIS Si iv 1394 Å line profiles are seeded with absorption components resulting from Fe ii and Ni ii. Our study indicates that EEs occurring in active regions have mostly upper-chromosphere/transition-region origin. We suggest that magnetic reconnection resulting from the braidings of small-scale transition region loops is one of the possible mechanisms of energy release that are responsible for the EEs reported in this paper.