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Recently, the merits of cooperative communication in the physical layer have been explored. However, the impact of cooperative communication on the design of the higher layers has not been well-understood yet. Cooperative routing in wireless networks has gained much interest due to its ability to exploit the broadcast nature of the wireless medium in designing power efficient routing algorithms. Most of the existing cooperation based routing algorithms are implemented by finding a shortest path route first and then improving the route using cooperative communication. As such, these routing algorithms do not fully exploit the merits of cooperative communications, since the optimal cooperative route might not be similar to the shortest path route. In this paper, we propose a cooperation-based routing algorithm, namely, the minimum power cooperative routing (MPCR) algorithm, which makes full use of the cooperative communications while constructing the minimum-power route. The MPCR algorithm constructs the minimum-power route, which guarantees certain throughput, as a cascade of the minimum-power single-relay building blocks from the source to the destination. Thus, any distributed shortest path algorithm can be utilized to find the optimal cooperative route with polynomial complexity. Using analysis, we show that the MPCR algorithm can achieve power saving of 65.61% in regular linear networks and 29.8% in regular grid networks compared to the existing cooperation-based routing algorithms, where the cooperative routes are constructed based on the shortest-path routes. From simulation results, MPCR algorithm can have 37.64% power saving in random networks compared to those cooperation-based routing algorithms.