This is the official manual for the latest Org-mode release.

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By default Org expands ‘src’ code blocks during tangling. The :no-expand header argument turns off such expansions. Note that one side-effect of expansion by org-babel-expand-src-block also assigns values to :var (see var) variables. Expansions also replace Noweb references with their targets (see Noweb reference syntax). Some of these expansions may cause premature assignment, hence this option. This option makes a difference only for tangling. It has no effect when exporting since ‘src’ code blocks for execution have to be expanded anyway.