We investigate optimal resource allocation for delay-limited cooperative communication in time varying wireless networks. Motivated by real-time applications that have stringent delay constraints, we develop a dynamic cooperation strategy that makes optimal use of network resources to achieve a target outage probability (reliability) for each user subject to average power constraints. Using the technique of Lyapunov optimization, we first present a general framework to solve this problem and then derive quasi-closed form solutions for several cooperative protocols proposed in the literature. Unlike earlier works, our scheme does not require prior knowledge of the statistical description of the packet arrival, channel state, and node mobility processes and can be implemented in an online fashion. © 1963-2012 IEEE.