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Cooperative communication with multi-antenna relays can significantly increase the reliability and speed. However, cooperative MIMO detection would impose considerable complexity overhead onto the relay if a full detect-and-forward (FDF) strategy is employed. In order to address this challenge, we propose a novel cooperative partial detection (CPD) strategy to partition the detection task between the relay and the destination. CPD utilizes the inherent structure of the tree-based sphere detectors, and modifies the tree traversal so that instead of visiting all the levels of the tree, only a subset of the levels, thus a subset of the transmitted streams, are visited. Based on this methodology, the destination combines the source signal and the partial relay signal to perform the detection step. We show, in both simulation and hardware verification on the WARP platform, that using the CPD approach, the relay can avoid the considerable overhead of MIMO detection while helping the source-destination link to improve its performance.