In wireless networks without nodes equipped with multiple antennas, cooperative Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) transmissions may be used to harness diversity gains. In general, diversity gains are larger if more nodes are involved in the transmission. However, a transmission policy that maximizes the diversity gain or throughput need not maximize the stability region, since queues at the nodes may grow while waiting for a sufficient number of nodes to become available. To address this issue, this paper develops a mechanism for maximizing the throughput while reducing the energy consumption and maintaining queue stability. We develop a sufficient condition that ensures the throughput optimality of a stable transmission policy and then use it to design a distributed, dynamic threshold based Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol for cooperative MIMO transmissions. The MAC protocol requires only limited local information for its operation. Simulation results are provided to evaluate the performance of the proposed protocol and compare it against regular point-to-point and existing cooperative MIMO MAC protocols. The results show that the proposed scheme can provide considerable gains in the throughput and energy savings compared to cooperative MIMO based on fixed number of cooperating nodes. © 2013 IEEE.